Remember when you are first starting at a new firm as an intern, that you are entering a community of people that are sharing a common goal and seek individuals that are able to enjoy the work they do while they collaborate. Make sure you have a sound understanding of the following 6 points that could provide you with an easier and more rewarding internship.
1. Try to keep your search as open as possible! Do not restrict yourself!
It is understandable that most people consider the cost of living and the pay of an opportunity when deciding where you intend to go with your career. Not everyone has the ability to take a lower paying job that fits their career better. Limited savings and a modest salary usually leads to young professionals staying closer to home when looking for new opportunities. Yet it will provide you with more flexibility if you are open to expanding your search to new places and regions.
2. Passion in every project you take on!
In the US, Interns are not always viewed as equal partners at a firm, sometimes you need to work your way up, and this involves taking on tasks that you might not have imagined yourself taking on. For example, buying coffee for the office or lawn upkeep in front of the firm. Remember! Your attitude when asked to do these less relevant tasks can lead you to get into the more interesting projects down the line. Prepare yourself and your expectations for many different realities, but stay true to your passion for helping!
3. Always find ways to help your firm and counterparts
Similar to point 2, it is important that you are always trying to be a pro-active force that provides help and support, rather than distractions and conflict. You do not want to gain a bad reputation as a hard person to work with during your internship, as that will most likely lead to you not getting the chance to work on bigger projects. Try to contribute slowly over time, and make sure you are aware of the toes you might step on.
4. Questions! Questions! Questions!
Always ask questions you may have, no matter how stupid they may seem, as you want to show you are there to learn and there to improve to further help the firm. Every person makes mistakes, and even the small ones can lead to bigger issues down the line. Just take on the embarrassing moment right then and there to make sure you are aware of how to help, rather than detract. Yet, remember, do not waste time asking the same questions over and over again.
The last thing that your mentor wants to do is repeat themselves over and over again, when they have already clearly stated the answers previously. If you are hesitant, ask one of your colleagues that you haven’t connected with before to make sure you are able to get the relevant information.
5. Try to learn about what each department does and how the work together!
Although you might only be interested in the Design Studio of the firm, it is always valuable to know what each department does and how they can help you. Usually, a project requires each department to be prepared for collaboration with different departments. By understanding the workflow and becoming a multi-disciplined architect or designer, you will find yourself becoming more and more valuable to the firm. Thus, you are more likely to have the internship turn into a longer term career option.
6. Document every aspect of your internship
Not only is it important to document every aspect of your internship to make sure you do not forget anything, but also to make sure that you know what you will want to add on your resume and portfolio. If you document an experience that you have had on a specific project, it will help you to remember what you enjoyed about the experience and what you did not. Thus you can further improve your understanding of what you do and do not want out of your career.
When considering your next career move, plan proactively and create Portfolios that include your best work. Consider looking into finding a mentor with Architect-US, and improving your Portfolios with our Portfolio Plans and Career Advice Program. We provide coaching and personalized mentorship, so you can have a professional and experienced take on your next steps in your career, as well as a great team to confide in.