What NOT to do when working at an Architecture Internship

Internships are a key part of every architect’s architectural education. Internships allow you to explore ideas outside the classroom, develop new professional skills, and create strong relationships with industry decision makers. By being able to take on more responsibilities and gain more experience in a short period, you can learn more about your field and see what it feels like to be on the other side of the desk. That way, you can find out what kind of company you would like to work for and you might have made some connections in the industry that can guide you or help you out.

1. Work for free

Should you work for free?

You know your limits better than anyone else; what I’ve presented here is my opinion, but if your gut tells you that you can use the experience to get a job in a big office later, and you have the means to do so, go for it. Do it, but keep in mind that there are other very viable alternatives where you can gain the same experience and be paid. It’s entirely up to you.

A fair architecture apprenticeship looks like this: You go to the office, you observe, you help and people teach you. You don’t work overtime, if you need to do work for university you can take time off etc. You may not get paid for this but you are learning.

An unfair architecture internship is where you get paid nothing and they ask you to stay to work past dinner time every day and work on the weekends.

Make sure that you are aware of the kind of firm that you are joining and if it is worth it to take on those responsibilities for less to no money.

2. Being late

One of the best things you can practice is being punctual. No matter what you do, being on time is a form of showing respect to the person you are meeting with. It is something that requires absolutely no skill at all. It is a matter of respect for the people you are working with and a way to show readiness to take on responsibility.

Punctuality seems really simple, but some companies pay very close attention to it to define how a person really is in the workplace. People may assume that you don’t care or are unreliable.

Create systems that work for you.

As simple as it may seem, it was difficult for me to comply with this, and I was guilty of being late. So back then, I tried to create systems that forced me to become punctual. This way, I am left with no choice but to be always on time.

Setting up an alarm to get into the shower and one to leave my house usually does the job.

3. Learn to listen

Architects need to have an excellent ear to deliver on their clients’ expectations with no problem. If you aim to be one, you should always listen and focus on the details given to you. Failing to do so will put you in a difficult position and the person who instructed you. It may be your superior or a client. Not meeting their demands will indeed create chaos for you both.

Pay close attention to the instructions and try to get a sense of the big picture. Understanding why you do what you do is essential for learning and improving your skills.

4. Be social

Saying hi to someone seems very easy, but this is not the case for introverts. Overcoming this condition is not as simple as forcing yourself to be confident immediately. Introverts undergo pressure every time they are approached by a person or a colleague.

In the workplace, however, you don’t have to always be the one to approach people. Some are kind enough to say hi to you and start a conversation. When the opportunity presents itself, learn to respond. Just a simple greeting will take you a long way. Remember, the workplace is kind of like a huge team working together for one goal. So, don’t put pressure on yourself and just try to adapt slowly. I’m sure your workmates will get you talking in no time.

I was lucky enough to have young colleagues back in my internship days, and they took me out all the time. If you are somewhat of an introvert, your workmates will go out of their way to help you just because they want you to feel at ease. Who knows, you might even develop a great relationship with someone.

5. Ask Questions

The worst thing you can do during an internship is not ask questions when you don’t understand something. Learn to speak your mind as it shows that you care.

Corporate people won’t spoon-feed you, so you have to do it all by yourself. After all, asking isn’t bad as it even helps you develop a better relationship with your colleagues. Trust me, working alongside people you trust and are comfortable with makes everything less stressful. Your goal during internship is to learn something so you can take it as an experience, so socializing is one of the best ways to achieve this.

Be sure to communicate and provide kind gestures towards people from your workplace. A simple smile or a greeting can take you a long way. Socialize and have fun with your workmates during break times. Who knows, they might become your future friends!

When considering your next career move, plan proactively and create Portfolios that include your best work. Consider looking into finding a mentor with Architect-USand 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.


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