6 Worst things Architecture students can do during an internship

Architecture Internships are important

Internships are an essential part of your architectural education. They can help you explore ideas outside the classroom, develop professional skills, and build relationships with industry professionals. It is a great way to gain a lot of experience in a short period and also a way to learn more about your field and see what it feels like to be on the other side of the desk.

That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of them while you’re still in school. That way, you can find out what kind of company you would like to work for and you might have made some connections in the industry that can guide you or help you out.

During an internship, architecture students experience what it is like in the field and will be able to learn from the experts in their area. However, certain things should be avoided while doing an internship. So let’s look at some of the mistakes I experienced and some of the things you should not do before and during your internship.

1. Work for free

Should architects work for free?

Architecture students enter the industry with a lot of enthusiasm. Still, they often have to deal with unpaid internships, leading to a lot of stress. Interns are often not paid for their work and take up jobs outside their field to support themselves. Many architecture students also struggle with how demanding it is on their mental health. Some are even unable to afford rent in expensive cities and need to rely on loans or family support. It’s a real problem, so should you still consider to work for free?

Did I work for free?

I couldn’t afford it, so the answer is no. So I could only apply to places that could pay me, which was ultimately beneficial because places that can afford to pay are usually doing well and have more mature practises.

Always remember that business is business when it comes to the workplace. When you do something, you are compensated for it. It’s not a favour; you’ll be working and investing your time there. It is common for people to take advantage of creative people and literally gaslight them into believing they are not worth a living wage.

Should you work for free?

You know your limits better than anyone else; what I’ve presented here is my opinion, but if your gut tells you that you can use the experience to get a job in a big office later, and you have the means to do so, go for it. Do it, but keep in mind that there are other very viable alternatives where you can gain the same experience and be paid. It’s entirely up to you.

Fair Apprenticeship versus an Unfair Unpaid architecture internship

That said, you can always build up your Resume with extra curricular activities, architectural competition or even doing a non-paid apprenticeship.

A fair architecture apprenticeship looks like this: You go to the office, you observe, you help and people teach you. You don’t work overtime, if you need to do work for university you can take time off etc. You may not get paid for this but you are learning.

An unfair architecture internship is where you get paid nothing and they ask you to stay to work past dinner time every day and work on the weekends.

Learning is NOT a justification to not get paid.

Every single person who applies for a job is not fully qualified to do the job; otherwise, there would be no room for personal growth. To put it another way, when you get a promotion, you get paid more and usually have to learn new skills, therefore you’re getting paid more and learning at the same time, which is fantastic!

2. Being late

One of the best things you can practice is being punctual. No matter what you do, being on time is a form of showing respect to the person you are meeting with. It is something that requires absolutely no skill at all. It is a matter of respect for the people you are working with and a way to show readiness to take on responsibility.

Punctuality seems really simple, but some companies pay very close attention to it to define how a person really is in the workplace. People may assume that you don’t care or are unreliable.

Create systems that work for you.

As simple as it may seem, it was difficult for me to comply with this, and I was guilty of being late. So back then, I tried to create systems that forced me to become punctual. This way, I am left with no choice but to be always on time.

Setting up an alarm to get into the shower and one to leave my house usually does the job.

Being late can ultimately damage your mental health.

If you are late every day, you begin the day in the worst possible way and add a huge amount of stress to your day that you could easily avoid. As a result, you should try to avoid being late not only for others, but also for yourself.

3. Learn to listen

Architects need to have an excellent ear to deliver on their clients’ expectations with no problem. If you aim to be one, you should always listen and focus on the details given to you. Failing to do so will put you in a difficult position and the person who instructed you. It may be your superior or a client. Not meeting their demands will indeed create chaos for you both.

First, do the bare minimum (And then do what is great)

Pay close attention to the instructions and try to get a sense of the big picture. Understanding why you do what you do is essential for learning and improving your skills.

f you are asked to do an Option A at the beggining, make sure you do that first, rather than all of the other options that you believe are better. Remember that this is a team effort.

They may only require the dull Option A and not the exciting Options C or D.

This is especially bad when you don’t do it and someone else has to do it, resulting in a waste of everyone’s time and energy.

So, if you have a greart idea, you are always welcome to express it and discuss it with your team, and if you have time, you are always welcome to try it.

4. Be social

Learn to say Hi

Saying hi to someone seems very easy, but this is not the case for introverts. Overcoming this condition is not as simple as forcing yourself to be confident immediately. Introverts undergo pressure every time they are approached by a person or a colleague.

In the workplace, however, you don’t have to always be the one to approach people. Some are kind enough to say hi to you and start a conversation. When the opportunity presents itself, learn to respond. Just a simple greeting will take you a long way. Remember, the workplace is kind of like a huge team working together for one goal. So, don’t put pressure on yourself and just try to adapt slowly. I’m sure your workmates will get you talking in no time.

I was lucky enough to have young colleagues back in my internship days, and they took me out all the time. If you are somewhat of an introvert, your workmates will go out of their way to help you just because they want you to feel at ease. Who knows, you might even develop a great relationship with someone.

5. Ask Questions

The worst thing you can do during an internship is not ask questions when you don’t understand something. Learn to speak your mind as it shows that you care.

Corporate people won’t spoon-feed you, so you have to do it all by yourself. After all, asking isn’t bad as it even helps you develop a better relationship with your colleagues. Trust me, working alongside people you trust and are comfortable with makes everything less stressful. Your goal during internship is to learn something so you can take it as an experience, so socializing is one of the best ways to achieve this.

Be sure to communicate and provide kind gestures towards people from your workplace. A simple smile or a greeting can take you a long way. Socialize and have fun with your workmates during break times. Who knows, they might become your future friends!

6. Burn yourself out

Sometimes, the workplace gets very hectic, and your team is required to work extra hours. You should always know your limits.

Learn to say no.

Avoiding exhaustion gives you the assurance that you can do your job at your full potential the next day. Constantly feeling exhausted can lead to stress or even depression.

I learned this the hard way as I took too many work commitments beyond my capabilities. It seemed like a good idea at first, but when I did it more often, I felt like I was being burnt out. And that is not good for anyone.

Hope this helps!

I’m sure the things I’ve mentioned here are just the tip of the iceberg, and there’s a lot more to learn out there. This is just a starting point; the real challenge will come when you try it for yourself. When you begin your internship, be prepared to make it enjoyable for yourself. It’s a great learning experience, and the best part is that no one expects you to be perfect, so don’t be too hard on yourself and just do your best and have fun.

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