While receiving a college education and degree in design was enough to start your career in the creative industry, today’s most demanding professions expect you to have experience so you can hit the ground running after graduation.
Finding an internship can be challenging, and choosing which is right for you can be even more difficult.
Why Are Internships Important?
Internships offer design and architecture students the chance to gain practical, hands-on experience while exploring what it’s like to work in the industry, which is invaluable for building a successful career.
You’ll be able to apply your formal education and talents to practice while working alongside experienced professionals, learning from their expertise and gaining insight into how organizations function as a whole. This may also give you the skills you need to launch your own business in the future.
Internships also provide the opportunity to network and create connections with architects and designers, which can be a tremendous asset when securing a job in the future. So, let’s jump into the tips on securing an internship within the field of architecture and design.
How to Land an Internship
Consider Your Qualifications, Discipline, and Interests
An internship is designed to enhance your experience and professional development journey. Before applying to as many firms as possible, take a moment to evaluate the skills you’ve gained during your schooling, accomplishments, and previous work experience.
You’ll also want to consider what type of specialty firm you would like to gain experience in, as design firms usually have a specific focus within their office, whether it’s hospitality, residential, or even product design, among many other areas of focus.
By understanding your goals, aspirations, and abilities, you can make the most of your search process and determine which firms align with what you’re looking for.
Build a Strong Resume and Portfolio
In architecture and design, your portfolio is a crucial element in securing success. It should be thoughtfully designed to showcase your best work, clearly communicate your potential, and demonstrate your unique design perspectives and talents.
Tailoring your portfolio and resume to each firm is essential, including relevant experience and projects related to their practice. Hiring managers are busy, so it’s crucial to communicate your skills and abilities efficiently while including a minimum of three projects within the portfolio.
Finding an Internship
After determining what types of internships are available for your degree, discipline, and interests, it’s time to start looking.
Apart from browsing LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and other job sites, utilize the resources available to you through your university network. Career Services are invaluable when it comes to job and internship placement. Firms will often post internship openings interested in hiring students, and your advisor can even provide recommendations.
Utilize your university’s network to gain connections and potential internship opportunities. Building a relationship with your Career Advisor will help you stay up to date on upcoming workshops, career fairs, networking events, and more.
Network, Network, Network
Networking is a critical aspect of securing an internship in architecture and design. Attend industry events, join professional organizations, and connect with professionals on LinkedIn. Building relationships with architects and designers can lead to job offers, recommendations, and referrals. Networking can also help you gain insight into the industry and provide you with new ideas and perspectives. So, be proactive and put yourself out there!
Once you’ve determined which firms you’re interested in, apply as soon as possible. Highly competitive fields like architecture and design often have hundreds of prospects vying for limited positions, so be the early bird to increase your chances of success.
The key to a successful interview is effectively communicating your skills, experience, and showing what you can offer the firm. Interviewers want to know that you are confident and capable, while being open-minded and ready to learn. Research the organization’s values, culture, and mission, practice interview questions, and be ready to articulate your design philosophy and creative process.
Asking informed questions about the position and company helps to show your passion, initiative, and eagerness – these are qualities that are highly valued in the industry.
Internship Success Tips
After you’ve secured your internship, your work is just beginning. Here’s how to get the most out of your experience.
- Network: Talking to colleagues, industry professionals, friends, family and others in your network can lead to job offers, recommendations, and referrals in the future.
- Ask questions: Internships are an opportunity to learn from professionals in the field. Asking questions and being open to feedback will help you learn how organizations work, along with improving and building on your foundational knowledge.
- Explore: An internship is your chance to put your skills to work and see the day-to-day work. Try to take on new responsibilities and projects to broaden your horizons and determine what facet of the industry you envision for your long-term career.
- Be a sponge! Soak up as much knowledge about your field as possible. Take the time to observe your colleagues’ communication styles, work processes, and design methodology. In the process, you’ll get a better idea of whether it’s something you want to pursue.
NewSchool of Architecture and Design
At NewSchool, our learning-by-doing methodology means we encourage students to intern as soon as their abilities and circumstances allow. Some internships earn credit or pay, but all expose you to industry best practices and enhance your professional experience and network.
Whether pursuing a Bachelor of Interior Architecture and Design or one of our graduate architecture programs, internships will help you gain industry-ready skills to fuel your future success. With the help of our Career Services office, you can secure positions tailored to your educational goals and aimed at future employment.
And because San Diego is in the hub of the design and architecture industries, you can choose from a variety of companies and firms representing the full spectrum of creative employment.
Get in touch with our Enrollment Team and discover how our award-winning architecture & design school can turn your passion into professional excellence!