Architecture Internships: The Most Important Jobs Of Your Career

  Architecture Internships

Architecture Internships

A large portion of my audience are just starting out in their careers so I thought I would cover an important subject for this post: architecture internships.

I know the title of "intern" has somewhat become outdated and the profession feels that for some reason it is offensive to call someone with no experience an intern. However, for the purposes of this article that's what I will go with. 

To help you with your architecture job search, I've created a mega-pack of free resources that includes architecture resumes, cover letters, and an extensive collection of application documents. Click for a free download:

Architecture Internships

So what is an architecture intern? 

Traditionally it refers a current undergraduate or graduate student that is working during the summer to gain real-world experience. This has somewhat evolved to refer to someone currently studying but can include a recent graduate with one to two years of experience. 

Why is an internship so important?

Moving from an academic environment to the "real world" can be a difficult transition for some people. The days of sleeping in until noon on a Tuesday because you only have afternoon class are over. To help with this major life adjustment I recommend finding relevant employment during your summers off.

You can start doing this as soon as the summer after your freshman year. I started my first internship after my junior year but I wish I would have done it earlier. Having those first couple of jobs under your belt will set you up for success once you graduate.

What you want to avoid is something I see all to often: years and years of schooling with no work experience.

Sadly, universities are great at teaching you to be a student but not an employee.

Employers know this.  

Let's say, for example, there are two resumes that land on the desk of the HR Manager at your dream architecture firm:

#1 Architecture Graduate:

  • Two summer internships at local mid-size architecture firms.

  • Two glowing letters of recommendation from those employers.

  • Real-world Revit experience with several residential projects.

#2 Architecture Graduate:

  • No office experience.

  • Entered a design competition a few years ago.

  • Worked on a group project in class.

Who do you think is more likely to get the invitation to interview?

It is okay to be picky.

As of the writing of this the economy is great for architects in most markets. There are currently more jobs than can be filled, this means you can be very selective.

Do you want to work on large scale projects? Small residential? 

Whatever you decide, try to think 5-10 years in the future and where do you want to be with your career. With that target in mind pick a firm that will help to get you there.

Also, see if you can potentially work part-time during school. Yes, architecture can be demanding, but having that extra experience throughout the year will put you far ahead of your peers. 

How do you get an architecture internship?

In a previous article,  5 Tips On How To Get An Architecture Internship, I covered the following steps below to help you land your first job. 

1.  Create A Brag Sheet

Creating a "brag sheet" is a great way to identify what you can offer a potential employer by getting to know yourself.  This is simply an exhaustive list of everything worth mentioning about yourself that you can then use as a resource for all of your application documents.  

2. Use Your Network

Most of their new hires come from word of mouth. 

This is why the first (and best) place to start is within your existing network. If you are still in college / university check with your professors to see if they know of anyone that is hiring. Have any friends of your family that is in the architecture or construction profession?

3. Do Your Research 

Spend some time researching the firms you want to work for,  to create a summary of each of the firms. Make sure you are clear what you want to be doing. Building models? 3D modeling? Drafting?

You may not have a lot of skills to offer at this state but identify what are your strengths and try to leverage those abilities.

4. Use A Targeted Approach

Don't just send a generic application to hundreds of offices.

Take your time to put together a targeted, well researched application. Focus on how you can emphasize your relevant work.

5. Be Persistent 

Always follow up the submission of your application with a phone call. Many offices do not encourage calls, so a second email after approximately a week. 

Stay on top of your applications because no one else will. 

I hope you enjoyed this discussion on architecture internships, let me know how you are finding job opportunities in the comments below. 

Want to find your dream architecture job?
Check out The Architect's Guide Resources.

To help you with your architecture job search, I've created a mega-pack of free resources that includes architecture resumes, cover letters, and an extensive collection of application documents. Click for a free download:

Thanks for reading, see also my posts on:

The Top 5 Architecture Interview Questions

Where To Apply For Architecture Jobs Online

The Two Page Architecture Portfolio

Good luck!

Brandon Hubbard, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C

Have a suggestion for a future blog post? Please let me know in the comments below.