Architecture Internships are difficult and at the same time, extremely crucial in helping decide your future as an architect. The ‘Being An Intern’ series is aimed at providing some insights into what you can be doing to make life a little easy..
Internship periods generally differ from one architecture school to another and more so, across regions. However, in most cases, you might find yourself looking at a one year internship that spans the final year of architecture school.
There is a good chance your internship will form the basis of how your career as an architect shapes out. So, it goes without saying that choosing the office you choose to work at might be the most important decision you make in your five years of school.
When I was looking for offices about a year ago, most people – professors and peers, pointed out that working in the same firm is the way to go for several different reasons. A couple of months ago, I also wrote an article about how you should go about choosing your firm where I mentioned how it’s a good option to work in the same place for the whole year.
On retrospect, after eight months of interning, understanding and figuring out things, I realize it is time I wrote an update to point number 5 of that article.
Generally, when you are applying for an internship, most firms are looking for candidates who will stay on throughout the year. They prefer someone who will hang around for a whole year so they can get the most out of you and at the same time, spend resources and time investing in you. When you join a multi-faceted firm, there is a possibility of you applying for a permanent position at the firm and in case you are brilliant, they might just offer you a full time job. Either ways, they don’t want to be wasting time teaching someone the tricks of the trade only to have them quit in a few months. That being said, I would personally suggest that you quit in a couple of months and here’s why –
When you begin your internship, you might be put on a team dealing with a particular project, or you might be given working drawings, details, corrections and such to help you learn as well as reduce the firm’s liability in case you screw up.
Eventually though, you might be scaled up in terms of the work you do and given responsibility of more important aspects such as residential or apartment designs, staircases, facades et cetera. I was told the whole point of sticking on to a single firm was that you would get to experience or work on a project from scratch to completion. In my opinion and experience, that is never going to happen.
Almost every project that a firm will handle at any point in time will span a minimum of two years. Clients generally never know what they exactly want and sometimes, you could have months passed before even conceptual sketches are formed. Once you get past that stage, a project could have any number of revisions and updates in plans and designs and by the time the plans are sanctioned, a minimum of a year’s worth of time has passed. In this vile situation, the intern might never end up seeing neither the start nor the finish of the project.
Switching firms half way might be a great idea mainly because you will get to experience a completely different and varied sometimes vibrant work culture. The projects will be different and the people you work with will be new.
With architecture, especially in India, the trend has been to eventually start your own practice. With that in mind, working in more than one place as an intern would only work in your favor since you will get to learn the different ways of handling design and architecture as well as different types of work ethics, office management and a wide variety of projects.With our profession being nested in p2p interactions, it might be all the more vital to build a larger number contacts and an audience base by working in multiple firms.
Most importantly, the internship period is a time when you are free to experiment and find out your true calling of sorts. You are free of liabilities and hopefully, bills. Since you are just out of college after studying different genres and styles of architecture, you would be open to accepting and maybe, implementing something new, something you might not do a couple of years down the line. This internship might teach you what kind of an architect you DON’T want to be and it will help you understand ethics.
Experimentation and expression are the most important aspects in architecture. This is the time and the place. Carpe diem.