Here’s ten pointers that’ll see you through your application process!
- Don’t be generic. Landing an internship is not a one-step act. It involves a process of elimination, and many sets of eyes will see your application. Though you may only be interviewed once, your application is going through multiple stages in the backend. The best way to avoid being eliminated is to stand out from the crowd. Don’t follow a cookie-cutter resume and portfolio format that everyone is doing. Show something that grabs the attention of potential employers, such as an independent project or a live installation or design that you’ve built.
- Do your research. Instead of getting a list of architects and applying to all of them, take some time to do your own elimination. Don’t apply to a firm you know nothing about. Go through the websites of different firms and see their work. If it doesn’t inspire you, you shouldn’t be applying. Make sure you are a good fit to the firm you’re applying to. Try to find out about the team and work culture. You don’t want to be stuck at a place you don’t enjoy and that makes you miserable for 6–9 months.
- Don’t underestimate the power of your network. Start early on and cultivate a network of people in your profession who would be genuinely interested in helping you. Many times, professors and visiting faculty will notice an exceptional student and recommend them to firms, which increases your chances of getting selected. Even if you apply on your own, most firms will not hire anyone new without speaking to their faculty or previous employer. Make sure you provide strong professional references who are familiar with your work and ethics (not your relatives or friends).
- Don’t wait till the last minute to apply. Many candidates apply a good 2–3 months in advance. If you wait or put it off, chances are the firms you’re eyeing will already be full up.
- Follow the application format. Many firms will not even consider applications that disregard the application guidelines they’ve given. Applying to the wrong address or sending multiple applications to all the email addresses on the website is a big turn-off.
- Be professional and courteous. Email each firm individually, with a tailored cover letter. Applications without a cover letter will mostly likely be trashed. If you’re not bothered to even write to them, you probably won’t be going the extra mile in work. Show that you’ve done your research by talking about why you chose that particular firm, and what you like about them. This is a differentiator and will make you stand out from the piles of generic applicants. Don’t address the recipient by name if you don’t know them.
7. Be genuine and specific. Don’t use platitudes such as “You are the leader in the industry,” or “Your firm has a range of projects I would like to learn from.” It may sound flattering, but that doesn’t help you get an internship. Be concise and to the point. Don’t ramble on in your cover letter. Keep sentences short and simple, and share all relevant information, such as your location, your dates of availability for an interview, and duration and official dates of your internship, if you’re applying as a college requirement.
8. Have someone you trust look over your application before you send it. Have them check for typos and redundancies. Edit, edit, edit to make it to the point.
9. Don’t hesitate to apply if you don’t meet all the criteria. If your work is good, and you seem like a valuable candidate, the decision-maker will move things around and at least meet you for an interview. Once your foot is in the door, you can pitch why they should hire you.
10. Follow up, but don’t be a nuisance. If there’s a firm you’ve really set your heart on, you can call them a couple of weeks after you apply as a gentle reminder and to put your name in their ear. But don’t call incessantly and insist on an answer. If you do, the answer will be no, because they probably received a lot of applications that require time looking through. Don’t call to ask if there are vacancies, just check the website, most firms will have the information on there. If you do need to call, call on the landline so that someone can help you instead of dialling the chief architect’s personal number.
Are you interested in interning at DesignAware? See our internship requirements here.
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