It’s great that you’ve decided that you want to be an architect.
Whether you’re dreaming of designing the next landmark building that’s going to make headlines, work on home renovations and restorations, or only looking at the broader outline of the industry, you’ll be able to make a fulfilling career out of architecture as long as you have the right motivation.
At this stage of looking for an architecture internship, you’re probably well aware of what the path towards becoming a full-fledge architect entails.
It includes 5 to 6 years of architectural school, preferably board-accredited so your path to licensure is more straightforward, which takes at least another 5 years after you graduate.
If you’ve just graduated from high school and unsure yet if architecture is for you, then an internship (even if it’s at a firm near where you live) would be an excellent way for you to test the water.
Interning as a college student is a great way to make some money and get some valuable real-world experience to be better prepared to complete the remainder of your architecture program.
Either way, you’d have minimal to zero work experience as an architect, so the resume you’re producing will be different from one created by a working architect – to a certain extent.
Let’s take a look at the essential things an architecture internship resume should have.
Architecture or not, there are standard things that internship applicants need to apply, so we’ll start with them first.
1. Resume Length
One (1) page is all you need.
Anything longer than one page usually screams too long. Long resumes generally get pushed to the bottom of the pile that the recruiter has to read through.
Think about it from their perspective: if you’ve read 30 resumes already, by the time you get to resume 31, you’re only going to be skimming or looking forward to completing the resumes review.
2. Formatting Your Resume
Making your 1-page resume easy on the eye is crucial for keeping your prospective employer engaged.
You may have many skills you think they need to know about, but long unbroken paragraphs are tiresome to read, and the information gets jumbled.
Make sure you keep your language short and concise and format your page so the key facts stand out.
Always use bullet points when you have three or more points under a resume heading.
Base your resume design on columns for better organization. Use at least one other color (other than black) to highlight important sections or improve legibility.
Above all, be organized in every aspect of resume presentation that you can think of.
3. Clear Contact Information & Short Summary
Best to have these two items at the top of the resume.
The need to have contact info is clear – an email address and a phone number are standard. Avoid including your personal social media links unless you have a polished LinkedIn profile.
For the summary, provide two sentences on how you can contribute to the firm. Again, this should be short and concise to grab your employer’s attention. But what’s the best way to do that?
Firstly, research into the firm.
What does the job role specifically entail?
What are they looking for in an intern?
There are usually only 1 or 2 positions available at architecture firms for interns, so every resume you write should be different and specific to the firm you are applying to.
Seasoned architects can omit the Summary Statement altogether, but having one can’t hurt your chances when you’re an intern with no experience.
Your summary statement is where you can show them how committed you are to the firm.
But if you’re sending the same resume to every firm you apply to, chances are you won’t be getting into any of them. So, always adopt a targeted approach for each application.
You may be wondering what education even means in this context. Fear not.
In this section, the recruiter knows you have little to no education relevant to the architectural world, so they want to see how committed you are within whatever work you apply yourself to. Make sure you play it all up.
If you got an award in class, let them know. If you achieved something in an extracurricular activity, put it down. They want to see that you commit to what you’re doing.
List them in chronological order with the most recent at the top. State the school, program, qualification, and award names in full with the rest of the ensuing details in bullet points.
Most importantly, if you have self-educated yourself on any specific part of architecture or more broadly as a whole, this is essential to show you’re serious.
Even if you just ring a local architect for a chat about what the business is really like, this will show initiative, and you will likely have more real-world architectural education than most.
As a student, this would be the main section the recruiter looks at, so spare no details.
5. Work Experience
It is OK to include non-architecture work experience if this is your first internship. The employer would understand.
But whatever little field-related experience you have would be helpful.
This section is about showing your character and who they could have working for them. If you have volunteered or have any work experience at all, then put it down. It can even include things at school, such as being part of the school paper.
Suppose you took a course (like the free architecture introduction course online from Harvard – source), did some research, or even had a small portfolio related to architecture (recommended); this is where you show it off.
(FYI – most architecture schools require submission of a design portfolio as part of the application for entry. If you have one, update it for your internship interview. Otherwise, please take it as a practice to put together artistic and design-related projects you’ve done)
6. Skills Breakdown
You need to include everything relevant from being technically savvy to particular design software skills (Sketch Up, Rhino 3D, etc.).
You probably already have the list in your mind.
But, people often forget to include your soft skills as well – anything like critical thinking or good interpersonal skills.
Make sure to include examples to illustrate them; otherwise, they sound like empty claims.
If you are already researching the firm specifically, this is another area where you can hit the buttons they’re looking for.
Have a Hard Skills and Soft Skills sections with bullets to describe your proficiency level and how you’ve utilized them.
The resume aside, it’s crucial that you spare some thoughts on how you’re going to approach the internship application.
It’s no use preparing a standard resume and submitting it to tens of architect firms in the area.
Although you must craft a targeted cover letter that’s consistent with how you present the resume, there are a couple of useful tips you can use in your search for an architecture internship.
Note: You can read the importance of a cover letter in architecture job applications and how to write one correctly for more details.
Don’t Overlook Small Architecture Firms
Applying for household names in the architectural business world when you have relatively no experience is the equivalent of a Hail Mary.
The simple plays that often land are applying for smaller firms, usually local to you.
Smaller architecture set-ups will be more likely to take someone on potential alone, which can be a great stepping stone later down the line for getting into more prominent firms.
Visit the Local Firms
To this end, you can take the time to visit local architecture firms face to face or ring them to ask about internships.
This is scarier than just sending emails from the comfort of your own home, but it will show these firms your initiative and the drive you have to be part of the architectural world.
It could be yet another thing to set you apart from the rest of the competition.
Defeating Your Demons
And, finally – but most importantly – don’t let yourself get beaten by rejection.
When applying for anything in life, you will come up against doors slammed in your face, rejections, or be flat out ignored by someone you’re trying to get the attention of; this is par for the course.
It’s never personal, so just keep going, keep learning, and you will eventually get something. It may not be your first choice, but all you need is one person to open a door and you’ll get there.
Get knocked down 7 times, get up 8.