Troubled Intern Architect


Hello everybody,

My name is Allan. I'm currently an intern architect  with a only a few months of experience logged. I have a question for the audience that I'm sure gets asked quite a bit, but I am in need of professional opinions here.

I am currently in graduate school for a certificate in sustainable design to add to my bachelors in architecture. I'm pursuing this because I am both intrigued and fascinated with the natural environment and design. At the present moment I am working in a small five person firm where I see no enthusiasm towards architecture at all. A negative work environment if you ask me. I am finding myself less interested in architecture and more intrigued by the environment from both a planning and design aspect. With my limited experience I don't know what I should be looking for in terms of career opportunities.

My problem/question is this: I am in a state of feeling that I am lost, I have few network contacts and a mentor, but they don't regard nature in the same light as I do. Usually they tell me its crap, lol. Anyway, I need feedback or advice if you will lend it. Not sure whether I stay the course or abandon ship. Unfortunately I don't know where else to look except architecture. Nature and design are my two favorite areas. Not sure whether or not it's the firm or just architecture, but it seems I'm not interested in the field of architecture.


So where else does a guy with a B. Arch. and a heavy interest in nature go? Anyone have similar stories to share?


Thanks in advance, I appreciate it.

Apr 29, 13 10:39 am

here are my initial thoughts that might lead you towards something more fulfilling:

Apr 29, 13 10:49 am

@Allan Sylvester

im not trying to be a "Richard", but sounds like you are experiencing what i call the  "neo and the matrix" effect. I to remember when i was given my first project to design a small insurance office building, i was very excited when the client stated out of his own mouth " I want it to look like one of those Wright Buildings". (who was more influenced by nature and organic design than he!!!). in the end it was an arm wrestling match as usual between the budget and initial design; were the budget won 10 to 1!! final design looked like some kind of frankenstein meets the lochness monster horror building that still give's me nightmare's any time i hear the word insurance or office building!!!! now the fountain head all makes sense!

Apr 29, 13 12:32 pm


It is great you are employed and yet also contemplating how to forge ahead with a meaning career that speaks to your interests.

Be careful how to develop your online presence. What you say online stays forever. Prospective and current employers can typically just do a quick google on your name and they will find your archinect blog laments fairly easily.

It takes maturity and a certain level of professional acumen to post online using your real name. I'm by no means discouraging you from using your real name. I still post under my handle 'chingale' because I prefer to remain anonymous. But I have tremendous respect for people who post online using their real names. You just need to do it mindfully ok?

In response to your post, there are many architecture/design firms that focus strongly on  addressing the built environment with a terrific emphasis on landscape architecture and sustainable design strategies. Sometimes, if you know what it out there, it can help you focus your career goals.

I'd focus on making a top ten list of architecture/landscape/sustainable design consulting firms in your area that really excite you before you give up on architecture altogether. As a student, you have a wonderful opportunity to reach out to these firms to request informational interviews and / or assistance with a student project or paper. While I was a graduate student, I developed many of my professional contacts from interviewing architects for research papers and projects with a focus on sustainable technologies.

Use your time as a student wisely! It is so much easier to make connections with architecture firms when you are not knocking on their door for a job but instead are genuinely interested in interviewing them for information on their recent work and expertise.

good luck!

Apr 29, 13 3:57 pm

yup... welcome to the real world of work.  Now get back to updating those washroom tiles  xD  Its sort of an initiation to this profession.  We've all done it ;)

Apr 29, 13 4:21 pm
And maybe look for a different firm. Interview them to see what they are about. Many larger firms are very sustainable these days. You will still need to cut your chops as an intern but you will find it to be more like you
Apr 30, 13 6:15 pm

Don't give up on architecture. Being an intern is all about figuring out what you want to do with your career. School was just what you thought you wanted to do with your career - it all changes when you start doing real work. 

I would encourage you to try another architecture firm that tends to do new construction of some type - it is hard to escape LEED when you are building from scratch these days.

Continue your Certificate, and even consider doing a LEED program. Use your peers (in both school and your LEED classes) to bounce ideas off of, learn from, and network with.

I doubt there are many people here who enjoyed their first internship while they were doing it, or thought that they fit in well at the first office they worked at.

Apr 30, 13 7:16 pm

I haven't had a lot of internship experience, but the one that I did have as a student was positive. It was a small firm and I don't think that they were able to be too picky about commissions (although every project that I saw was still at least modern), but the other people there were nice and had a positive attitude (towards both their work and each other) and that made it a positive experience. That makes me think (and I'm hoping) that it's just a matter of finding the right fit - I don't think that all architecture firms are so negative. Also, there are plenty of places that emphasize sustainability - it's just a matter of finding people who have that preference. If you are starting to look outside of architecture, then landscape sounds like it could be a potential direction for you since you could build on/integrate it with your architecture experience and landscape is also such a major part of the contemporary discourse. I don't think that you would necessarily have to abandon architecture in order to do that, since plenty of practices like to synthesize both fields.

Apr 30, 13 7:37 pm

Two years ago I was an intern doing I have an intern doing stairs for me so I can focus on more "important" things. Circle of life, hang in there. 

If your particular firm doesn't interest you, move on. Graduation is the perfect time to re-brand yourself and make a change. 

Apr 30, 13 11:21 pm

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