March 7, 2014

Interns- 15 Dos and Don'ts

So I've had a certain idea of what interns should do and how they should act. I kept to this at my first architecture office job where I was an intern for about 3 years while completing my BArch degree. You are there to learn so don't expect to hang out all the time. 

Therefore here it is- a compiled list of dos and don'ts as an intern in an architectural &/or engineering firm. Not all firm structure are the same so some points will not be applicable. 

1. Be respectful to the senior staff. The saying goes "don't bite the hand that feeds you". Well this applies here and I don't mean because they pay you. You are looking for the experience and wisdom which they hold (presumably). Feed off of this and get as much from working together as possible. 

2. Ask questions. Ask questions on topics that you are not familiar with. Be mindful of the time and place though. Do not interrupt or bombard. For example: If you are sitting in on a conference call and a proprietary material system is mentioned. It would be best to write it down and ask about it following the call ending.

3. Take initiative. This is a double edged sword. You should only do this if you are familiar with a task that needs to be done. It can easily back fire if not. This should only be small matter initially so you may show that you are willing to help out and really do work. For example: Don't go trying to send out a set of bid documents without being review by AOR and expect that to be taking initiative. That would be foolish. 

4. Go to lunch and learns. When various product/material reps come in to do Continuing Education seminars, go and sit in. You may learn a thing or two about a new technology. 

5. Go to any construction site or meeting you are allowed to. This is a major point! You want to get out of the office any chance you get. The best architects don't just have good designs but can relate their drawings to the real world application on a construction site. Go see what you've been drawing up!

6. It may take some hard work to gain responsibility. Be patient. Rome wasn't built in a day. It will take time for you to gain the trust and experience that the senior staff expect. It will be little by little. In the end it's their butt on the line if you screw up. Additionally- you will know if being patient turns into being taken advantage of. At which point you should look for work elsewhere. Don't be too quick to make that decision though. 

7. Learn from what task you have already done. If a task is assigned to you. Learn it well so if it is ever given to you again you can say "yes I remember how to do that". 

8. Listen. Listen. Yes listen to those around you. 

9. Take notes if you need to so you get the task done right the first time. Don't "think" you'll remember those instructions. Write it down!

10. Red-lines/markups: check your own work before bringing it to senior staff for review. Important. You may catch stuff you missed. This help you to have a keen eye for detail and get the job done with less revisions and time going over the same items. 

11. Be positive and smile as you go through the day. No one wants to work with a grouch. Leave your personal life/problems outside the office and work happily. 

12. Early on establish IDP record and select a mentor (within US). Gauge how their willingness is to help/approve hours. You want a good relationship with your mentor so logging hours is simple and effortless. 

13. Read. Yes read and learn about the profession. What new things are happening. New changes. This is what you want to do. Learn your craft. 

14. Sketch. Draw when you can. It doesn't have to be architecture. Anything. Keep your mind open and improve your ability to transfer your ideas from mind to paper easily. 

15.Lastly- Don't sweat the mess ups. Everyone has to start somewhere. Don't beat yourself up over it. Learn from it and move on. 

Jared W. Smith, R.A. 

1 comment:

  1. Good post with truly excellent advice. Thanks Jared!


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