About author – Sanchit Soni is a final year B.Arch (class of 2014) student at School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal.
Internships in Architecture are of utmost importance, since internships help students gain a relationship between the academic part of coursework and the pragmatic aspects of designing and building to the execution level. Broadly speaking, there can be two types of internship in Architecture
- Summer or winter internship (which lasts 1-2 months )
- Mandatory semester internship as per the guidelines of CoA (Council of Architecture)
Summer or winter internships are basically individual internships which are taken up by students at will. During the summers/winters when students are not occupied by any other project, they can opt to have such internships. Usually, during these internships, you will be given small time projects or will be asked to create small details (like a bathroom detail or a kitchen detail) for larger projects. These internships would not earn you any academic credit but are definitely good to build up your CV and have a pragmatic approach to your semester design project.
Mandatory semester internship is an internship which every student enrolled in an institute affiliated with Council of Architecture has to undergo. The duration of internship may vary, but it is usually for a semester. During this internship period, you have to take a leave from University and join the respective office or firm where you are supposed to have your internship, much like Medicine or Law students. Usually, the experience is similar to doing an actual job with following all ethic codes of a professional environment.
Now the question is, where shall I do my internship?
Unlike Engineering or Science students, where they have the option to do either a Corporate internship or a University internship, most of the internships in Architecture are supposed to be pursued in an Architectural office or firm. University internships in Architecture are very job specific and rare. The semester internship is specifically allocated for an internship in a professional office; hence many institutes like to call it “Professional Training”. Now some might ask why it is such that the internships in Architecture are more focused towards professional office environment, the answer is, because of the difference in the level of execution between an academic project and a live, real-time project.
In an academic project, the brief or the design problem (the detail and type of project you are supposed to design) can be fictional or live, and the designing will be done for execution as close and possible, but you will not actually build it. Whereas in a live project in any office or firm, you will actually build what you will design or draft. So the idea of this “professional internship” is to introduce you to the complexities involved in the execution of any live project, which you might be unaware of during the academic project.
Appropriate time for internship
For summer or winter internship, any student of the first year or final year can pursue an internship, but offices prefer taking interns who have done at least four semesters of undergraduate studies.
For semester internship, the institute decides in which semester their enrolled students will go for an internship, but usually, they are allocated for semesters of fourth or final year.
The bigger question is, how do I apply for an Internship?
First and foremost, you have to develop two very important components of your application. First is your CV or resume, and second is a portfolio. The latter holds more importance than the former. I think developing a CV or resume is not a problem, but the trickier part is making a Portfolio.
What all should I include in my CV?
Your current education status, your previous internships, software skills and research assistantships, achievements and scholarships, academic projects and special short-term courses, workshops etc. can be included. If applying abroad and you know any foreign language include that as well. DOB and nationality are a must. Special interests related to Architecture and Design can be mentioned.
Special note on software skills: If you know AutoCAD avoid writing it as Autodesk® AutoCAD Architecture 2011,2012 etc. Just write AutoCAD. AutoCAD is a platform and you don’t know which version of software firm uses, if you are good at it, you must be equally comfortable in any of the editions. For Adobe products, if you know Photoshop, illustrator, InDesign, and Bridge (which no office uses), you can mention “Adobe Creative Suite”.
What all should I not include in my CV?
Father’s name, house address (the only address that should be mentioned should be of the institute), marital status, the percentage in 10th -12th and AIEEE rank should be avoided. Special interest in Sports and interests of non Architectural nature should be avoided.
How many pages should my portfolio have?
The ideal length of the portfolio cannot be standardized as such. But keeping in mind that your potential employer doesn’t want to waste too much of time on your application, it will be enough if you create a portfolio of 5-15 pages. Another strategy is making a portfolio of 20-30 pages and keeping limited content on each page.
How should be the format?
What should be the content of the Portfolio?
For every project, try to show the whole process of designing. Include a few sketches of your conceptual design. If your design is based on a certain algorithm, try to include Graphical representation. An example is here.
What type of drawings should I include?
The thing is, that it all depends on you. If your design is more focused on site and spatial planning, you may include more of location and site plans. If your façade system is more technical, try including more of elevations and sections, and some details. Key is, trying not to include everything and every piece of drawing and ending up with a jam-packed portfolio.
What type of Projects should I include?
Anything, from a bus stop to a Kiosk to a Shopping Mall, or even any Product Design. Whatever you feel like. Try to include 3-5 projects, but better keep a set of 5 projects and compile it accordingly, as per specifications of the application from the firm. If they ask to include only 3 projects, give the best ones out of your collection.
What type of Fonts should I use?
Usually, students try to convince the employer that they are really innovative and the first thing they do is search for an amazing font, with some sketchy-drafting kind of graphics. Trust me, nobody cares. The trend for 2013 is to use very simple and clean fonts, such as of Sans serif/Serif family. You can use century gothic or Arial, or similar font style. There are a number of fonts available on dafont.com
Amount of text: use the minimum amount of text because Architecture is about graphical expressions. If drawings cannot convey what you want to express, the text will do no good.
I am weak with software skills. What should I do?
The best thing would be to include whatever you know without worrying about your rendering skills. Most creative studios are interested in your approach to design, and the way you conceive it. If you are good with handwork, scan your handwork and compile it. If you know only one or two software, try including projects you made with that software properly. Remember, firms prefer your strength. Try to show your strength in your portfolio irrespective of what it is, handwork, software, sketches or drawings.
What should be the format and size of the portfolio?
All well-equipped offices use 21-27 inch sized desktop screens with 16:9 HD ratio. Try to make a portfolio which follows the same ratio of length and width. The trick is, when HR manager clicks on your file, it should open in a manner that completely occupies the screen. If you think this stupid trick holds no importance, try opening a panorama image on your system and see how frustrating it is to zoom in and out to see the details. For Hard bound portfolios (for walk-in interviews), try getting high-resolution images to have better print quality.
Sometimes, Firms mention clearly that:
The portfolio should be in A3 format; Should not exceed 5 Mb in size; Should only contain not more than 10 pages.
My suggestion would be to have a bunch of the jpegs of your Portfolio ready and compile them as per required into a pdf. PDF, PDF, and only PDF!
Controlling the size of the portfolio:
Get a jpeg image optimizer/size reducer application such as Fotosizer, and then install a PDF binder program. PDF can also be done via Ps or InDesign but it is comparatively more difficult to control the size and image quality of pdf. Better use the former method which is faster and hassle-free.
What not to do in any Portfolio?
Never to squeeze too much content, never to show off your rendering skills, never to use too many colors and background templates. Keep it simple and effective, and really what your style is. Always showcase what YOU are capable of without worrying about meeting anybody’s expectation. As truly said, Art comes best when served without calculation.
Go to issuu.com and search for “Architecture portfolios”. You can find hundreds of portfolio it has and get an idea of designing a portfolio.
After completing your portfolio and CV, the next challenge is to find firms and send applications. Most firms prefer accepting applications through email, but some firms also prefer having a walk-in interview. Remember that it is absolutely normal practice to apply for an unsolicited position. Offices usually have a small workforce of architects, planners, and designers and don’t have a separate HR team. So never worry about sending an unsolicited application. Obviously, some firms do post about internships (like HCPDCM and Vastu Shilpa in Ahmedabad), but the numbers are few. Firms would be needing an intern without actually posting an ad or a notice for that, so you should send your application to the firm anyway. Moreover, because of the legacy of mandatory six-month semester internship, firms have a specific quota for interns for which they receive applications without posting an ad.
For the email, make a decent Cover letter for the email body including your area of interest and type of academic projects done. Attach your CV and portfolio to the email body and start sending emails to firms. It is a common practice to include the resume in one of the pages of portfolio or to attach a separate CV. Both practices are acceptable. Keep your attachment size under 5-6 Mb.
Where to get the list of firms to apply?
Because CoA prohibits Architects to endorse their firms, finding the contact details of Firms can be tricky, but here are a few points which would help in getting a list of firms.
- Famous architects like Charles Correa, BV Doshi, Raj Rewal, HC Patel, Hafeez Contractor, Romi Khosla, Sanjay Puri etc. can be simply Googled and you will find contact details on the official website.
- For listing of local firms, try using Justdial or similar Yellow page directories. A simple google search like “Architects in Mumbai” will also return favorable results.
- Try fetching the list of architects from your seniors in your institute, from the firms they must have pursued their internship.
- For students who are interested in Sustainable, Earth and low-cost architecture, Hunnarshala (http://www.hunnarshala.org/WP/), Dharmalaya (http://dharmalaya.in/), Costford (http://www.costford.com/) , and Auroville Earth Institute (http://www.earth-auroville.com/) are suitable options.
- Try using architecture-specific websites like Architizer, ArchDaily, Archinect, and Dezeen. These websites have firm listings as well as an exhibition of projects by Indian and International firms.
- For Internships in Europe, more specifically in Germany, try http://www.competitionline.com/en/jobs and search for intern/praktikant.
- For internships in Germany http://www.ar.tum.de/aktuell/ausschreibungen/externe_stellen/
- For internships in Europe and abroad, http://www.world-architects.com/en/jobs/open-positions is another useful website.
- For internships in Singapore http://www.sia.org.sg/member-firm-listing.html
- For European countries, try going to their local Google searches, such as Google.de or Google.fr, and search “Internships in Architecture” translated in the local language. For instance, searching “Praktika in der Architektur” or “Architekturbüros in Deutschland” in Google.de will produce more favorable and local results for Germany than searching for “Architecture Internships in Germany” on Google.co.in. The same goes for All European states, Far East and Oceania.