A Young Architect’s Guide to bagging their first Internship ​

A Young Architect’s Guide to bagging their first Internship ​

September 13, 2022

Source: Archslate

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.

Basic Details you can’t skip in an Architectural Internship Application

Source: Architecture Lab

  1. CV or Resume - A CV is your first form of introduction to the recruiter, make sure it's crisp and articulate to make a good first impression. Keep the content concise while highlighting your USP’s as a designer. Hyper-personalize your resume to match the firm’s philosophies and job description.

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.

  1. Portfolio - The thoughtful compilation of your academic works in a portfolio gives a glimpse into your architectural abilities. Display all your creativity and design skills in your architecture internship portfolio. It is the perfect tool for showing the recruiter what you bring to the table.  

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.

  1. A Personalized Cover Letter - A cover letter helps the recruiter gauge your intentions to apply for a particular job role. It is an extra added effort that shows your genuine interest in being a part of the firm.

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.

  1. Physical copy of your CV and Portfolio (for Interview) - An old-school portfolio or a physical CV+portfolio comes in handy when you go in for an interview. While digital portfolios are essential for an initial review, a print portfolio is better for discussing your work during an interview. Bind some good-quality prints to make a print version of your ideas to have an insightful design discussion.

7 Best Practices to follow while applying for Architectural Internships

Source: Archisoup

  1. Well-Crafted Emails

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!

  1. Applying directly on the Firm’s Website

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.

  1. Tactful Cold Emails

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.    

  1. Track with Follow-up Emails

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.

  1. Reverent Cold Calls

Source: Entrepreneur

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?    

  1. Effective LinkedIn Pitches

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)  

  1. Generate Leads through Networking

Source: Lamentable

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!

5 Pro Tips to ace your Interview

Source: Archinect

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.

  1. Go with Thorough Research: While most interviewers will only test the correctness of the information in your application, some may test your stress handling abilities. Do your homework well. Know about the industry updates, current topics, and the firm’s recent works.
  2. Zoom Interview Calls:  Creating a lasting impression via a zoom interview can be a bit challenging. But you can still ace it if you are conscientious and prompt. Sitting under proper lighting, having an apt background, and running all the system checks in advance are a few things to make a note of. Ensure that you have all the necessary material ready to screen share.  
  3. Unannounced Walk-ins: A few architecture firms are open to the idea of unannounced walk-in interviews. While this is a rather drastic way of applying, it may be quite fruitful. The most significant advantage of these is the application process is cut short to a hassle-free on-the-spot review of your work.
  4. Follow basic Interview Etiquettes: Report on time for the interview. Dress appropriately, and present yourself well. Be confident and explain while the portfolio is being reviewed. Treat your interview like a conversation, but maintain a formal decorum.
  5. Ask Questions: Always have your questions ready before an interview. Having them shows your enthusiasm. Ask questions about your potential role and responsibilities to understand the nitty-gritty. Understand the processes, systems, and working style of the office. Always end the interview by thanking the interviewer for their time.

5 Application Mistakes to Avoid

Source: Architizer

  1. Outsourcing your portfolio from a professional. Your portfolio should reflect your true skills and abilities, let it be your own creation as sooner or later, your recruiter will understand your capabilities.
  2. Overselling your skills or lying on your resume. Seasoned Architects usually don’t take long to judge a person’s skills and abilities. It not only harms your reputation in the long run but also the institution you’re representing. Keep it simple, keep it honest.  
  3. Dishonest practices in the form of plagiarised designs or replicated work.
  4. Sending applications without reviewing or proofreading. Be cautious when sending applications, read them out, and thoroughly check before hitting the send button.
  5. Sending applications at an inconvenient time. It decreases the chances of the recruiter opening your email. Send your emails on a working day at around mid-morning working hours.  

It’s all about creating a Portfolio that best represents you…

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.

Join The Portfolio Masterclass by Studio Layout Academia and create your best architecture internship portfolio to land your dream internship. Learn everything about portfolio making live, get your portfolio reviewed by our expert mentors, and become a lifetime member of our WhatsApp community.


  1. How can I get into my dream architecture firm?

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.  

  1. How to apply for an internship as an architecture student?

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.

  1. What should my architecture internship application mail look like?

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.

  1. How many architecture firms should I apply to?

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.

  1. How many days should I wait before sending a follow-up email for an architecture internship?

You should wait for a period of 7-10 days before sending a follow-up email to an architecture firm you applied to.

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