Tips on landing an internship as a first year arch student?

Hi all, 

I am a first year architecture student in an undergraduate program. It is currently fall semester, and I am enrolled in studio and numerous other college architecture classes. However, during my spring semester (January - May), I will have a much lighter schedule in terms of my classes. For this reason, I would like to focus my 'free time' on fulfilling some kind of internship at an architect's office somewhat near my campus. 

I could find a regular job on/around campus at a restaurant or something like that, but I would rather spend my time at a firm gaining experience and knocking out some NCARB hours, if I could.

I know it might sound far fetched for a first year student to be searching for an internship, but I already had one this summer in which I worked on construction documents and creating various things for client meetings. Additionally, I went to the AIA Conference this summer as a student, and actually met some principals there who have firms close to my campus. I emailed the two I met -- and have gotten no response.

So, the 'cold call emailing' idea doesn't seem to be working too well. And the school I go to (Kent State in Kent, Ohio) isn't located in a sprawling area with tons and tons of firms -- but it is somewhat close to Cleveland and Akron. Anyone have any ideas on how I can get my foot in the door to possibly have an internship this spring?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

Oct 11, 18 11:09 pm
Non Sequitur

Look for smaller offices, perhaps a sole-architect type place which needs a bit of casual help.  I did something like that, but in my 3rd and 4th year undergrad.  Worked well around my studios and could commit to 3 half-days per week. Cold emailing is lazy and won't get you very far.  Attend some local chapter meetings, see who's winning projects, and pick up the phone.

Whatever you do, do make sure it is a paid position.

Oct 11, 18 11:46 pm

Kent State probably has a huge facilities and services or physical plant department, these are the folks who maintain the buildings on campus and oversee minor renovations and repairs.  This department might have opportunities for you to work as an intern architect. A university of the size of Kent State probably has a staff of 15-30 architects, project managers and construction managers, as well as a contingent of engineers and other specialist.

I had a job at the building services department while going to school at U of I. My job was inspecting and drawing as built drawings for every floor drain in mechanical rooms and science labs. it was a fun job, challenging but not too difficult. I got to go up on the roofs of nearly every building on campus and into some truly bizarre science labs. 

I would look on campus in the facilities department and also university housing as they often have need for interns to take measurements of things and do inspections with some light drafting.  The main benefit of having an on campus job is they will be much more reasonable in scheduling around finals and studio deadlines.

Hope this helps

Over and OUT

Peter N

Oct 12, 18 8:46 am

Try calling those principals instead of or as a follow-up of the emailing, because I don't think you're high enough on their to-do list, if at all. That doesn't mean they don't remember you from the AIA meeting or haven't read your previous email and don't want to consider you for an internship.

Oct 12, 18 10:23 am

Some good posts here already.  It does not seem far-fetched to try to get an internship so early in your education; I wish I had done it myself.

You may want to consider, if you haven't already, asking one of your licensed professors to look over your resume.  There could be something you're missing or something you've added by mistake.  Having an extra pair of eyes - with firm experience - could help you review.

Another option to look may be a city government position.  I interned with a city government for a summer.  The experience was quite a mix of things I probably never would've done in a firm.  The two biggest tasks were completing an ADA-compliance review of gov-owned buildings, and an accessibility survey of all of the neighborhoods - if there were sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, etc., Also they're guaranteed to pay you, and the hours are pretty standard so you aren't working crazy night hours or on weekends.

Oct 12, 18 11:10 am
Non Sequitur

Licensed professors... good one.


Accessibility surveys of neighbourhoods? Here (NL) every neighbourhood has sidewalks, crosswalks and bike lanes.


randomised, that's what this city is aiming for, especially with there being so many students. They have been trying to promote a pedestrian/bicyclist culture, but they don't have the infrastructure currently to support it in every neighborhood especially in the older and low income neighborhoods.

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