An architectural internship is the first stepping stone in the professional journey of an architect. This experience shapes you to face the professional world as an architect. It is important to choose your internship wisely as your first stepping stone. Only your selection of a dream architecture firm isn’t enough, your application or portfolio needs to be at par to get hired by these firms.
There will be many applicants for the same position as you, how do you stand out? Getting your dream internship, in reality, is a competition, and making an epic portfolio only ensures a less bumpy ride ahead.
To help you out in this process, we have created a comprehensive guide on some of the best practices to follow while applying for architectural internships.
Source: Architecture Lab
Your CV should narrate your story, about your background, skillset, past experiences, and lessons learned. It should justify why you’re the right person for the role, and how you can be an asset to the firm.
Get creative, not just with the portfolio but also with its medium. You can publish your portfolio on sites like Linkedin, issuu, or Behance. You can even go a step further and create a portfolio website to showcase your works. An Instagram account can also become your portfolio in grids.
The experimentations with the mode depict open-mindedness and forward thinking. It gives you an edge over others and makes you noticeable. But remember to always attach a portfolio pdf while applying as all firms may not appreciate the extra effort required to open links or browse websites.
A mistake that many students are guilty of making is sending generic cover letters. This mass strategy significantly decreases your chances of getting hired, recruiters rather appreciate a hyper-personalized approach.
Always send customized applications, address the firm directly in the cover letter, and let them know what you like about them and what sparks your interest to work with them.
The easiest and most efficient way to apply for an architectural internship is by sending crafted emails. It is the standard practice for hiring in most architectural firms and studios.
While this method is a mandate, it is not fail-proof. Many times, students receive no reply or acknowledgment from the recruiter’s end. Sometimes, an automated email stating the standard ‘we’ll get in touch with you soon’ is sent as a response. Rarely, do these email applications get a response from an actual human.
The key here is to make sure that your portfolio manages to stand out amidst the storm of emails. Start with an engaging and hook-worthy subject line, think out of the box. Keep your email pitch short and precise under 100 words. Rather than focusing on an ‘I, me, myself’ essay, talk about what effective results you can bring to the firm with your skills. Let them know that you’re an asset!
Sometimes, firms cannot manage to keep up with the swarm of emails and they provide the option of direct coordination through their website. Applying for an internship directly on the website requires tweaking your resume, cover letter, and portfolio to match the specifications on the site.
Go the extra mile to customise the application as required. The advantage of this method is that it shows your sincere interest, as you customize your application before applying.
Many times firms have a black hole-like recruiting system, no matter how apt an application may be, they never seem to get through. The chances of you facing this problem are quite high if you applied using any one of the above methods. Our tip to skip this loophole is to apply directly to the hiring manager or recruiters by sending a cold email.
These introductory emails are a direct pitch to make acquaintances and initiate future work prospects. Cold emails have a sale-sy tone over a generic email, as they act as a promotional deal for the reader.
In order to send a cold email for applying for an architecture internship, first, you need to identify the right person. Use your networking websites and platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter to find the right people. Second, articulate the email by introducing yourself in an effective manner, state why you’re contacting them, and inquire about the hiring status of the company, do not demand anything upfront.
Be respectful and convey your application succinctly. Do mention the attachments you’re including for their perusal while ensuring that the email gives a holistic idea about you. Cold emails ensure that your application has reached a frequently checked inbox, thus increasing your chances of getting a response.
Whether you used the age-old formal email application method or choose the unconventional route of a cold email, both may require you to track the application. Follow-up emails are an effective way to showcase your interest in working with a firm.
It is acceptable to send brief follow-up emails inquiring about whether or not they’ve reviewed your application. Ideally, you should wait for a period of 7-10 days before sending a follow-up mail. This shows that you’re respectful of the firm’s time and value the chance of getting an opportunity to work with them.
A bold way of combating the competition to get your application noticed is by cold-calling the recruiter. It gives you an edge over others and shows your proactive approach to getting the role.
Start by identifying and deriving the contact details of the right person to call. You can do this by getting in touch with people who work with the firm or have worked previously. Start by sending over an email or text message for a convenient time to call. Make sure you’re only calling them during working hours. During the call, make your acquaintance, and mention your referral source.
Send in your application before making the call. Start with a respectful opening line, be mindful of the person’s time and keep it concise. Try scheduling another call or request an email response for your application. Who’s to know, you may even manage to woo the recruiter enough to schedule an interview?
LinkedIn is a powerful and resourceful platform for expanding your network and for job-hunting. It is becoming increasingly popular and the new norm for recruiting. LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to create connections with people who could help you secure internships in reputed architectural offices.
So tidy up your profile, make it engaging and win over the recruiter by effectively pitching yourself through InMail or Direct Messages. Make sure that you have an initial engagement with the recruiter to initiate a pitch. Be crisp and concise with your pitch, and maintain a polite tone. Don’t spam their inbox with too many messages, stick to an elevator pitch format and direct them towards the portfolio uploaded on your profile.
If they’re interested in your work, they’ll respond to your pitch. Additionally, you can even use LinkedIn for checking for job postings by firms. (P.S. - Enable ‘create job alert’ on the firm’s LinkedIn handle)
The classic word-of-mouth referral never goes out of fashion. One of the most efficient ways of landing an architecture internship is through referrals and networking. Physical networking events like seminars, expos, symposiums and exhibitions are great for expanding your professional network. They open a lead generation window that could be of great use when you’re searching for internships or job prospects.
However, networking the right way is crucial. You need to create a memorable impression on people and put in persistent effort to maintain a sustainable business relationship. If you don’t have a strong professional network, you can use the connections and recommendations of your college professors or alumni to land your dream internship. You can even use your LinkedIn mutual connections to ask for referrals and recommendations from a current employee.
Generally, applicants through referrals get a higher preference. However, this does not spare you from the efforts of making a striking application. It only directs attention to you and your work. Ultimately, an effective work portfolio speaks for you!
Once your application manages to create a good lasting impression of your work, you may be called in for an interview. Here are a few tips that’ll help you ace this final stage before getting the dream internship.
An internship application is like a sales pitch. You need to highlight your mission, motivation, and skills in the right amount to create a lasting impression. Right from the hook-worthy subject line, and textual content to the CV and portfolio attachments; bagging an architectural internship is a roller-coaster ride. Make sure that you’re finessing each and every detail to create your holistic presence.
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The first step in getting into a reputed architecture firm is creating a stunning portfolio. Have a crisp application, apply meticulously and follow up on your application on a weekly basis.
You can send your application via pitches, cold email, cold calls, LinkedIn and other networking channels, or through referrals. You can even opt for walk-in interviews.
Your architecture internship mail should consist of a personalized cover letter, your CV, and your portfolio. It should be addressed to only one firm at a time.
You should apply to as many firms as you can. This will vary according to the context you’re applying to. Typically you can look at applying to a minimum of around 30-40 firms. Do this in phases, starting with the top favored to the least favored firms.
You should wait for a period of 7-10 days before sending a follow-up email to an architecture firm you applied to.
How To Create An Epic Architectural Portfolio That Lands You Your Dream Internship