:INTERNS

05.16.12

I have just finished a surprisingly lengthy process of interviewing summer interns for my firm. I have a whole new appreciation for the interview process as well as few apologies to write to people who have had to interview me. So to offer some advice (other then the standard advice) to those looking for an architectural internship please, for the love of Corbu, before you apply for your next internship… read this list:

1. Group all of your stuff into one pdf.  300 hundred applicants should = 300 files, not 1000. No one wants to click into and out of your word/ jpeg/ gif or any other combination of files to learn about you. PDF stands for Preferred Document Forgettingthisjob.

2. While it may be tempting to title that file ‘captain awesome’, your last then first name will do. In fact make sure, your name, contact information (is current… believe it or not that needs to be said) is on everything you submit.

3. Cover letters don’t get read. They are a hold over from mail based applications. If you can’t let go of writing one, brevity is key. A short cover letter is more likely to get scanned, it also shows that you have the ability to edit. Architecture is a visual profession, put your time into your sample pages.

4. Sample pages… I don’t need to see every project you have ever done.  In the same respect, the one page sample page is not enough, it’s also a hold over from printed applications.  Document well conceived  projects in as many pages as it takes, WITH DIGESTIBLE PROCESS IMAGES.  A smattering of disconnected images tells me nothing.  Interviewers are trying to quickly get a sense of how you think, make it easy for them to see how you got from A to B.

5. You are not a photographer.  If you are… I am not looking for one and you have applied for the wrong job. Being able to compose, take and edit a photo is an important skill for an architect but not one that I want to see in your sample images.  I made this same mistake with my first portfolio… unless your photos are communicating something (besides this is a good photo I took) they don’t say much about you as a designer.  Apply this skill to things like blog title images (like the one I took above of the Pantheon).

6. Personal contacts will get you much farther than resume bombing.  You know who you are… Stop it.  Put your energy into finding and fostering connections.  The profession is a small one… so search resources like LinkedIn.  You would be surprised how even a distant ‘My Aunts, ex-boyfriends, daughter’s dog walker’ connection is enough to get you in the door.  Consider it a game of 7 degrees to an Internship.  Invite your interviewer to ‘connect’.  Even if you don’t get the job, it’s another connection to mine for future positions.

If you are lucky enough to get an interview:

7.  Be concise.  I am interviewing you for a 2-3 month position, not for a lifetime achievement award. I don’t really care about the awesome thing you designed, I want to know why and how you developed the ideas the way you did. Show me process, technique and the skills that got you to that awesome thing and describe it quickly. Clients will demand the same skill, so learn it now.

8. Don’t chew gum… no seriously, don’t.

9. You’re just out of school, no one expects you to know anything… and you don’t. Show your interviewer that you can think, problem solve, be a good team player and that you have a passion for what you do.  After all, passion and a morbid desire to do nothing else is why we all got into this in the first place.  Architects who have been beaten down by clients who ‘don’t understand’, change orders and building departments world-wide are looking for your youthful energy to remind them of that passion.

10.  Because all good list have 10 items… follow-up.  I prefer both the quick email thank you and the old school hand written thank you.  It will set you apart. It’s professional and you would be surprised how many people don’t follow-up at all.

Keep the faith (it has never been a ‘good time’ to go into this profession) and good luck!

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4 Responses to “:INTERNS”

  1. Stacia Says:

    Would you like to go out for a drink? Seems like you need a break from this and could use a fresh start on round two.

  2. Joseph Says:

    This read more like a rant than an advice column. If you’re not satisfied by the quality of your applicants, then you are not attracting the right talent. Finding the right interns & employees should be a focused search by both employer and candidate, not a free-for-all resume dump.

    • mbevivino Says:

      Joseph, thank you for your comment. Your point is well taken, although the intent of this post was advice wrapped up in a rant. Let me say, we did find some incredibly talented students from some of the best programs in the country. We also passed on a lot of talented people because of simple presentation mistakes… many of which I wish someone had ranted at me for making. Maybe I should take another stab at this post after getting some sleep!


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