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What did you do at your first internship?

levifingerer

Hi all, 

Was just wondering what most people do when starting their first internship after graduating.  I've heard some start with site visits,  being mentored and so on.  

I'd love to hear what some of you have done your first few months as an intern and whether the firm was small,mid size or large.   

Thank you all

 
Apr 19, 21 6:51 am
Non Sequitur

Up here in the frozen Canada land, you're considered an intern-arch until you get your license (as long as you pay your annual intern dues and completed an M.arch) but "interships", like those bullshit unpaid gigs many still defend, don't really exist here.  What one can expect is junior & entry level grunt work ranging from red-line markups to 3D concept modeling/rendering but if the applicant is moderately knowledgeable in construction detailing, then they can escape jumping from whatever project needs SD and move into DD and CD phases.  More responsibilities, obviously, but also gives the opportunity to stay on a project as it develops into a real building + client/consultant/city face time.

My first gig was in a two-person arch office.  I was in 3rd year undergrad and worked part-time (15-20ish hr/week at 10$/hr under-the table pay) in between my studios.  Even without prior office experience, I was tossed into DD and CD projects and got to learn very quickly how to read our code books and put shit together correctly.  No grand conceptual fluffy ideas with diamond encrusted sky hooks, but real projects for real clients ranging from apartment renovations, restaurant fit-ups, and small-buildings.  

We will toss intern-Archs in any phase of a project if they show they can handle the responsibilities and we will provide guidance all the way through.  Sometimes even shadowing senior staff on job sites or attending meetings helps.  We also (pre covid) would do office meetings/presentations when a particularly juicy detail/problem comes up so that everyone not involved gets to learn something.  However, if the junior staff do not demonstrate initiative or are lazy/sloppy... then they will not be involved in significant projects but see themselves passed between departments when warm bodies are needed for random tasks.

Apr 19, 21 8:00 am  · 
3  · 
levifingerer

This was incredible. Thank you. Could you explain more about the "red lines" interns do. Thank you!

Apr 19, 21 5:02 pm  · 
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Non Sequitur

red lines are drawing mark-ups and corrections. Typically a senior arch or designer will scribble changes on a drawing/pdf and get the interns to make the corrections in the CAD/BIM files.

Apr 19, 21 5:33 pm  · 
1  · 

Here's some reading if you're interested in understanding more about the process...

https://thinkarchitect.wordpre...

https://www.lifeofanarchitect....

Apr 19, 21 6:35 pm  · 
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RJ87

They actually are a good way for interns / recent grads to get involved. You learn a lot just by going through the motions & seeing why things are placed the way they are.

Apr 20, 21 9:48 am  · 
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At age 8 I ran the diazo machine. At age 10 I was doing lunch and coffee runs for a 5-person office in a ground floor two-room apartment/office on East 80th Street that was also my home.

Apr 19, 21 9:09 am  · 
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randomised

But did you get paid ;-)

Apr 20, 21 3:07 am  · 
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Room, board, and an "in the trenches" education.

Apr 20, 21 9:24 am  · 
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randomised

Priceless

Apr 20, 21 3:32 pm  · 
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midlander

first summer internship 3rd year college: took owners dog out for walks, drew cad plans and sections of residential additions, had long lunches and coffees with owner, his son, and various townies. decided i wanted to focus on commercial work in a big city... (single proprietor small town residential firm. paid double minimum wage for pt work)


ft post-grad internship: updated floor plans for an apartment tower based on revised structural drawings. drew facade sections and details based on sketches from a technical principal. did the design and ffe selection for a rooftop pool deck. all good, useful, interesting work. (mid size well recognized design firm in a major city, stayed 5 years)

Apr 19, 21 10:13 am  · 
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levifingerer

That sounds great. So you were actually doing work and given responsibilities out of school.

Apr 19, 21 5:03 pm  · 
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midlander

yes, i joined the firm on the recommendation of a friend who already worked there and encouraged me to apply.

Apr 20, 21 8:37 am  · 
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thatsthat

That is how I got my post-grad internship too. I think students often don't understand their studiomates are a great resource for finding internships, either through actual opportunities or word-of-mouth of what firms provide valuable learning experiences.

Apr 21, 21 9:41 am  · 
1  · 
thatsthat

I didn't intern for an arch firm while in school. In hindsight, I wish I had.

Post-grad I interned at a small 8-person firm while job hunting.  They told me from the outset they didn't have enough work to hire me full-time afterwards, but they gave me a little time off to interview when I needed it.  I did site research, went to construction meetings, went with team members to take measurements on site, drafted up existing conditions drawings, worked on some SD iterations for one or two of the projects, and a little bit of code research.  On the cultural side, everyone in the office loved coffee so people would trade off bringing bags of their favorite local roasts to share.

For the interns in my current office, we typically have them picking up redlines, sitting in on construction meetings and client meetings, taking dimensions of existing buildings, and walking the site. Periodically, they will also help with internal office projects like cleaning out the plotter room, organizing the samples room, and moving boxes down to physical archive.

Apr 19, 21 10:29 am  · 
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levifingerer

That sounds awesome. Could you explain what you mean by "pick up redlines"

Apr 19, 21 5:05 pm  · 
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Student Internships:

I picked up redlines, rand prints, and did field verification.

Architectural Internship:

I did everything.  

Apr 19, 21 12:19 pm  · 
1  · 
RJ87

I'm not sure if you're referring to summer internships or full time work once I graduated with my masters, so I'll give both.

Summer Internships 1-3: Sketchup Models & Photoshop / Whatever unskilled the office needed was given to me because I was the lowest paid employee.

Summer Internships 4-5: Basic CAD work, Simple As-Builts, Sketchup Models & Photoshop / Whatever unskilled the office needed was given to me because I was the lowest paid employee. I forget what summer it was, but I think it was 4, our office ended up firing both "designers" (read photoshop / graphics folks) & I ended up working directly with the director of design all summer. Didn't really learn a whole lot though, because it limited my exposure to CD's.

First 6 months as an Intern Architect: Redlines mostly. Occasional scramble drill with design / graphics stuff. I was able to get on a few site visits / construction meetings, but not a ton. You'll draw plenty of stairs & bathroom enlarged plans, it happens. Someone has to do it & I was the lowest paid part of the project production team. After a while they trust you to know what a set is supposed to look like & you'll take on more & more as it goes on.

Apr 19, 21 12:25 pm  · 
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levifingerer

That sounds about right. Could you explain more about th "redlines"

Apr 19, 21 5:06 pm  · 
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JLC-1

Both internships done while in school, first one was a rebuilt of a chapel burned by the secret service police of Pinochet, second one was working at a building dept. in one of the poorest municipalities in Santiago, Chile, helping neighbors to regularize their self-built dwellings. You learn a LOT working with scarce resources and seeing how this really helps communities. Tasks were very diverse, from building benches for the chapel to go and measure "houses" with dirt floors and plastic windows.

Apr 19, 21 12:39 pm  · 
1  · 
archanonymous

On my last week we were kind of slow and my boss had some stuff to do... so he brought me a bag of weed and a pipe, gave me $100 and told me to take the week off and go to the beach. Not a bad way to wrap up your first summer internship.

Apr 19, 21 12:39 pm  · 
1  · 
JLC-1

I would still be working there man

Apr 19, 21 12:40 pm  · 
1  · 
archanonymous

Humans spend so much time chasing things we already had but didn't realize at the time.

Apr 19, 21 6:21 pm  · 
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atelier nobody

My only summer internship, I mostly ran diazo prints and did a little (hand) drafting. I felt really bad for the poor woman who sat next to the machine - we were in an old brick building with no HVAC and she was about 7 months pregnant having to sit right next to ammonia central.

The following summer I was hired full time at the same firm. Mostly I drafted. Fun story there was that the office had a very particular style of lettering, so I could do line work but no lettering on my drawings and was required to spend the last half hour of every day practicing my lettering until it was deemed acceptable. A few months later they bought the firm's first desktop PC with AutoCAD and the drafting hand I had been developing since 7th Grade, and was justifiably proud of, became just another useless archaic skill...sigh.

Apr 19, 21 1:32 pm  · 
1  · 
tintt

My first project was a wing of a nursing home that was almost identical to another wing they had already built. So I learned CAD and drew it. I still have that drawing set and it's possible that it is the best set I ever drew to date. 

I was not allowed to go to the job sites so I would visit after hours (from outside the fence of course.)

Apr 19, 21 3:18 pm  · 
1  · 
levifingerer

That's interesting. Did anyone guide you with Autocad or you had to figure out all out on your own?

Apr 19, 21 5:08 pm  · 
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tintt

Is it really interesting? I did figure most of it out. Trial and error. I had CAD in high school and there was a guy who I could ask questions to, yes. I remember asking him "What is a spec?" He laughed. I also asked what redlines were. He loved it.

Apr 19, 21 6:28 pm  · 
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For my first year or so, I was drafting CDs mostly. Some DD on the larger projects, but mostly it was drafting plans, elevations, and everything else needed in CAD. I'd occasionally get to go on site visits and take meeting minutes in progress meetings. Toward the end of that first year I was also doing CA (responding to RFIs and reviewing submittals, etc.) and getting a little more experience in SD for the next big project coming along. On top of all of that, there was always the usual office-related tasks like cleaning out the material binder library, organizing the archive, scanning old sets of drawings, getting the bosses snow tires out of storage and putting them in his trunk so he could take it to the tire shop, checking rodent traps in the basement, etc.

This was all after graduating. I never did any internships during school. I was always working construction during the summer months to help pay for school without taking on a load of debt. 

Medium sized firm with three offices throughout the region. About 10 employees in my office. 

Apr 19, 21 4:12 pm  · 
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levifingerer

Thank you for sharing. When doing C's and DD were you just given work or someone showed you what to do, explained it and then reviewed your work?

Apr 19, 21 5:10 pm  · 
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thisisnotmyname

Sounds like you were a good employee. Most of my noobs complain horribly about having to do what you call the "office-related tasks".

Apr 19, 21 5:28 pm  · 
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levifingerer, a little bit of both. I knew how to draft and project elevations from plans, etc. so they never had to show me that, but they did need to show me the office standards for how to set up the drawings and lay out sheets, etc. to meet those standards ... but that's fairly standard at a new office no matter how much experience you have. There was a more specific and detailed review on a task if I was taking on something they weren't sure if I could do yet (like a tricky roof detail), but once they knew they could trust my work there was just the usual drawing reviews and redlining.

thisisnotmyname, it's all about knowing and understanding expectations. https://archinect.com/arch-ellipsis/on-internships-and-mowing-the-lawn

Apr 19, 21 6:16 pm  · 
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Got a summer job in an architecture/interior design firm doing the interiors for a high-rise hotel project in Minneapolis. The architect was SOM and they wanted my employer to do all the drawings in mylar and ink so we wouldn't make too many changes! I was the drafting machine. I was given flimsy sketches and traced them onto mylar with Kohinoor pens, changing the tip every half hour because mylar ate the tip fast.
Of course, that SOM strategy only lasted so long and the changes were piling up. Mylar could no longer take the ink. So, we switched to sepia prints (great smell) I could draw by pencil and erase with a special solution which also smelled good! But sepia prints would also do what mylar did. Bubbles, revision numbers in triangles, symbols for wall paint, f&f numbers, you name it. We designed the reception areas, the main atrium space, 3 different bars, two restaurants, a health center, and a swimming pool, all with details (bar sections, furniture layouts, custom stuff, etc... I also did a lot of blueline prints (also the good smell of ammonia,) here's the best part, all for five bucks an hour!!! Learned a lot.

Apr 19, 21 5:47 pm  · 
3  · 

Ink on vellum isometric murals under Friedrich St. Florian at RISD was one of the many reasons I switched into industrial design. But alas for the days when producing architectural drawings was a craft!

Apr 19, 21 7:59 pm  · 
1  · 

Well, what do you know? Even a macabre...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

Apr 19, 21 8:44 pm  · 
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BabbleBeautiful

My first job/internship was one year in Mumbai. There were 3 of us.  I spent a lot of my time, drawing, CAD'ing, designing, building  sketch models, site visits, coordinating with carpenters and construction supervision. In addition, I also thought a shop and model class at a local arch school. Started and finished two projects in that year - one full apt reno and a cafe pavilion in Dubai. Also worked on a school, but only reached to beginning of CDs for that one. The process there is more akin to design/build minus the formality of CDs so the experience is unique and can't be replicated in the US and most, if not all, western countries.

Apr 19, 21 6:22 pm  · 
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randomised

Best thread in months! 

1st internship after my bachelor I did material research and writing, lunch prep (thank you previous restaurant experience) and learned to make a decent cup of coffee and also all the technical drawings for a project: plans, sections, facade, fragments and details from sketches or made my own. I worked on it alone with one principal. I checked all the measurements on site (as it was a monument). Since it was such a custom job also did part of the construction in our own workshop and on site with various wood working and power tools. Was really rewarding to work on this project, learned a lot practically, methodologically and visionary that I use till this day. And since I had a real and credited contribution to the project even still have this award-winning project in my portfolio and am in very good contact with the studio.

Apr 20, 21 3:30 am  · 
1  · 

My first summer internship I mostly ran blueprints, acted as office delievery person for drawings sets, and splicing the firm's mylar pre-printed title blocks onto blank sheets of mylar or vellum so the real draftspeople/architects could use them. One of the architects at that firm had his BArch from Hawaii.

Apr 20, 21 8:49 am  · 
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whistler

I was hired to help with building a model ( common entry level task in my area ) and then moved onto rendering some elevation drawings for a design panel presentation.  It was all because I befriended a TA in second year and he though I had decent graphic / design skills and we got along well. I was under the impression it was just a two week contract and I expected to go back to my College Pro Painting job. However, the last Friday I went around thanked everyone and as I was walking out the door the office manager stopped me and made sure I knew that I was expected back in the office on Monday.  Yippee! Well of course they had me organize the archives in the crawlspace, run errands and stand in line at City hall to submit a permit.  All very menial but it was my first job.  They were kind enough to hire me the following summer and part time through the next school year. 

The first job is so important to just get so that you can put it on the resume, meet people, build your network and land more jobs in the future. Those folks were impressed enough to put my name forward for future jobs and I found that I could always phone them up for references.

Apr 20, 21 5:09 pm  · 
1  · 
proto

In HS, I got an internship with a local architecture office, but got stuck in the accounting dept and usually just filed stuff; occasionally made prints or sat in a meeting where they talked about a project. The owner went to my school and offered the spot for a high schooler interested in the profession. Half the time they forgot I was even coming on a given day. It was once a week for about 8wks. I had a good time; they liked me because it shook up the stuffy office vibe when I was there. They sent me off on my last day with a bottle of champagne, underage and all! I saved it & took it to my HS graduation & it exploded in the hot car during the ceremony...my mom’s car...she was displeased. :) 

Always learning!

Apr 21, 21 12:05 am  · 
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senjohnblutarsky

I did some internships during school that helped me in preparation for the after-graduation work.  Ended up working at the same firm, so they knew what I was capable of doing.  This was back in the days of hard copies for everything.  I made a shitload of blueline copies (I can still smell the ammonia), copied spec books, and copied red marks from one submittal to the other 5 copies.  The last one was actually really educational.  It helped me learn what to look for when reviewing submittals.  I did a lot of redlines.  I wasn't really on any projects, start to finish, for a long time.  Was mostly just brought in the CD's phase to help wrap up production.  Again, redlines are educational.  It told me what the architect's preferences were, both in drawings and in notation.  I occasionally mixed in some schematic work, as-built field work, and construction site visits.  After a couple years, I worked (forced) my way into the marketing side.  Mostly just looking for RFP's, and then helping to generate proposals and other marketing materials.  After an architect passed away, I started assembling specifications for projects.  I mostly pulled specs from other projects that I knew were similar, then handed it off to the lead architects.  It was a time saver for them, and let me get my feet wet on that side of things. By the time I got my license, I was taking the project documents to about 90% completion, but still reliant on the architect for some input.  Wasn't getting to do any real project management.  I was being shown pieces and parts of that world, but didn't have a clue what really went on. In construction administration, I was doing most everything except the paper pushing.  

I occasionally went out and helped the company's surveyor.  Our architecture branch would go out and shoot grade on our own, from time to time, too.  Did some basic stuff for the civil engineers, and occasionally did some architectural site design (I enjoy laying out parking lots.  I have no idea why). 

After license, I jumped to a new firm and found myself in a totally different set up.  It kicked me back a little bit, in terms of responsibility.  But, I quickly moved back into similar roles and beyond. 

In down time I found myself making binder strips and any random things I could find to keep myself busy, and help with production.  I ended up doing destruction of dead files each year.  That was usually good for a week of time, sorting through what needed to be kept, tossed, or destroyed. 

First office was a 12 person Architecture office that was a branch of a larger, mostly engineering, company.  Everyone else was in the civil engineering field and related disciplines.  By the time I left, the Architecture division had been pared down to 2 full time people, and 2 part time people. It was a good learning experience, in a variety of ways.  


Whatever you find yourself doing, just try to turn it into a learning experience to prepare yourself for moving forward.  It's hard to learn much from pushing "go" on a copier.  But, there's nothing stopping you from taking a hard look at what you're copying while it's running. 

Apr 21, 21 9:18 am  · 
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archanonymous

That last bit is great advice.

Apr 21, 21 12:29 pm  · 
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JAK-90825
Built the firms website, some site visits, and painted their new office!
Apr 21, 21 12:03 pm  · 
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sameolddoctor

Wow, this thread brings back memories. 

My first student internship was a 4-5 week gig at the local "starchitect" office, where some seniors from my school were working and wanted some cheap labor. This was after 1st year of college, and we needed the pocket money.

The internship consisted of, on the one hand, lots of grunt work rendering (with pen and ink) drawings on vellum for their large projects to running out to ask the office chai guy why he was running late. The most memorable parts of the experience were seeing people from other parts of the world work in the same office, and "hiding" in the model workshop talking to the model maker about his past conquests and experiences. This was also the first office where I say Apple Computers and "MiniCAD" being used. This seemed so revolutionary, coming from an education of hand drafting on vellum!

The 3-4 other weeks of summer were spent at a smaller office in town where I was the only employee. I was the "chai-guy" that would have to walk down 6 flights of stairs and being in chai for meetings. The boss and job both sucked, but I learnt quite a bit more about architecture than hanging out in the starchitect's office.

26 years hence, I am not in touch with many of these people, but am confident we would recognize each other in person...Good times.

Apr 21, 21 2:53 pm  · 
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sameolddoctor

Oh I also forgot having to go to the copier for endless xerox copies, but making sure to look around the desks in that area for interesting stuff when said copier was running...

Apr 21, 21 2:57 pm  · 
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sameolddoctor

BUMP

Apr 26, 21 12:29 pm  · 
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