Archinect

Just an Intern

our architectural life inbetween

  • anchor

    Intern 101: How to deal with a new experience?

    Hi Archinect,

    Back to our Intern 101 series! Here goes a very important topic that no one really talks about. What do you do when you are tackling work that are over your experience level? NCARB wants us to fill in all these different categories, but honestly sometimes they are really difficult. This is what I have experienced lately at work, so I thought I would share with you on things to do when you don’t know what to do. Let’s be honest, that happens to us every day.

    1. Ask a lot of questions
    Number one rule at a workplace = ask questions. I have written about How to Get Involved in Your Firm before, and one of the points is also to ask question. JUST ASK THE QUESTION. I call my project architect at least 5 times a day with questions. If you are an intern, you are expected to be progressive about your learning. So do it! See it as a learning opportunity every time you encounter a problem and you will get so much better before you know it.

    2. Google it
    Number two rule at a workplace = Google it. Yes, you should ask questions, but do the research before that. If you don’t even know what you are talking about, you wouldn’t know how to ask the right question to get the answer you need. If it’s just a Revit or some software problems, google it. If you are confused about building codes, look it up in the IBC before you bug your architect. Your coworkers might be very willing to help, but if you can find the answer yourself, save them some time (they will really really appreciate it).

    3. Talk to your supervisor
    If your office has an open door policy, go talk to your supervisor about your concerns. Some of my coworkers put it in their annual review forms. Some bring it up at our regular project team meetings. I always just walk into my boss’s office and tell her my concerns. You can say something like “I am going into a new territory that I haven’t dealt with before, so I might need some hand-holding along the way.” They will understand, and appreciate that you tell them ahead of time so they can allocate staff accordingly.

    4. Just do it!
    Sometimes we get stuck in the idea that we don’t know how to do it, and forget that we CAN do it. We just have to learn and take a little bit more time than the experienced architects. Lately, I have been doing details in my project. Construction details are probably the most difficult part to me in architecture. I have picked up redlines on details before, but never developed details on my own. I did all the plan and section details, and it felt good! The accomplishment you get from overcoming a challenge is worth the hard work.

    5. Ask someone to review it
    Someone should review your work anyway before they get sent out. But if you are not confident about something, ask them to double check it. You will have to do your parts too. I always double check my work. This is my process: draw it in Revit, print it out, red line it, update it in Revit. Redlining your own drawings and picking the red lines up later by yourself is actually very helpful. I do that over and over again until it’s right. And of course ask questions along the way.

    Architecture is a continuing learning process. Doing new things is the only way we can learn. What’s your advice for us interns in tackling new experiences? Feel free to share your experience with us. Let’s make this blog a communal learning space for intern architects!

    Now that it’s summer, I have taken a little break from ARE, and shifted my gear to finish up my long-awaited website. Stay tuned!

    Thanks for reading!

    Joann

     

     
    • 3 Comments

    • kartikjadhav
      Jun 6, 14 4:34 am

      Asking too many doubts ... don't you think it will raise few questions about our understanding about the context. 

       

      For example there are two interns in same office and one of them does not ask any questions and does what is being asked him to do. And there is another intern who always asks for the doubts. 

      The first one is slower and do overtime in the office. 

      The second one is fast in his work and does not wish to do overtime in the office. 

      Which one do you feel the better one? 

      @kartikjadhav 

      That's an interesting point. But my bosses and PM have always told me they want interns to ask questions. It saves them time later to figure out the problems on their own.

      As to the example you raised, it depends on the office culture. I know most offices (with unpaid overtime) prefer interns that would work forever. Our office promotes healthy work-life balance, so they try to save us from overtime (and we get paid overtime when we do have to work for a deadline.). So if I were the boss/PM,  I would prefer someone that take the initiative to ask questions, which in turn work faster correctly so he/she can have a life outside of work.

      I am lucky enough to work in an office that has good culture. But I understand that some people get annoyed by too many questions and see you as incompetent. But like I said in the post, look it up yourself first. You can probably find the answer online or in some other resources if it's a simple problem. But if it's a really important issue in a building, just go ask the question.

      Do you think your boss would prefer a lot of questions right now or a building lawsuit down the road?

      Thanks!

      Gregory PavellGregory Pavell
      Jul 24, 14 2:16 pm

      From a manager's perspective...

      Any manager with experience should asses his staff members' strengths and weaknesses.

      They [PM], realize when a duty assignment is "over-the-head" of the inexperienced. Sometimes, this is a test to see just what transpires. Will the draftsman display relevant behavior regarding the problem - question; add a creative solution; notice an error of omission or a conflict with the detail? Architecture is such a vibrant communicative endeavor.

      It begs the "old school" studio, drafting room scenarios of the past where movement, conversation, argument [sometimes heated], were the norm as you moved from drafting board to drafting board. I would say to anyone focused on the profession with the intent to become proficient in both the artistic and technical demands of architecture to question, question, question.

      Some Firms do not take the time for this and perhaps it is indicative of the techno-speed and rush to complete. For a 5 person [average], project...I would always give a project intro.as an organized breakdown of it's flow, but just as important, make certain that this experience would gather it's own speed with an unnoticed climate of pressure because the best of your talents become fostered when I do my job correctly to make certain that I take the time to de-bug, "make the rough places plain" and see that the process is fun. The best project results are often those where the team IS the player...the PM...the conductor. Staying late, even off-the-clock, to go over problems someone may be experiencing will add to the projects success.

      You will very quickly asses the structure of an office whether your new-inexperienced or new-experienced. Some firms are pure joy to work in other's...just a job.

      Pertaining to your concerns, Joann, the technical side of the business is usually the most foreign to new grads as this emphasis takes a back seat to design-rendering programs which schools are most proud to exhibit. If the old adage still applies that quality and expertise are gained through practice and experience then work on your "weak points".

      There is no shame or embarrassment in this as "we've all been there".

      You will look back on your progression and perhaps amaze yourself as to where your strengths have led you.

    • Back to Entry List...
  • ×Search in:
 

About this Blog

Documenting the life between our graduation from architecture school and becoming a licensed architect. They say it's the journey that matters, so here we are experiencing the joy of being a great intern. Follow me @joannlui

Authored by:

Recent Entries


Please wait... loading
Please wait... loading