The intern is an asset at every architectural office.
An internship is an opportunity for a design firm to invest in young students going through school, as well as an opportunity for students to gain valuable work experience they can put towards their licensing requirements. At Design Collaborative, we challenge ourselves to give meaning and purpose to our intern experience. We worked to develop a program that would attract young architects to our office, or retain our past interns. After much thought, the Intern Development Program was established. This program is designed to expose interns to as many facets of a design firm as possible by giving them the opportunity to learn about different roles within the office, learn more about their fellow employees, visit job sites, and other important experiences all while focusing on a design and research project.
At DC, we believe it is important to pair every intern with a mentor. We call this person an Advocate. The Advocate becomes the point person for the intern to ask questions about their responsibilities, the profession, or just a person they can talk to. The Advocate helps the intern develop and hone their skills during their internship, answers questions about work tasks, or how to use our various programs. We feel this relationship is extremely vital in retaining interns, and ensures that our interns do not get lost in the shuffle of the job. The Advocate helps the intern to have a well-rounded experience.
We want our interns to have the best experiences while they’re with us. Our intern program is divided into semesters to align with a typical college schedule (fall, spring, and summer). During these semesters, we schedule various experiences for the intern to break up their week and expose them to various facets of a design firm. These experiences range from Hard Hat Tours of jobs sites, Ask Me Anything lunches with our partners and associates, and a variety of learning seminars within the office.
Hard Hat Tours are more than just a tour of a building under construction. They are an opportunity to expose the interns to construction meetings, and walk them through buildings at various stages of construction. A member of the project team explains the design of the project, why certain decisions were made, and discusses how different components come together. This is also an opportunity for interns to ask questions about design decisions, various construction trades, and the sequence of construction events.
Ask Me Anything lunches are a chance for the interns to sit down with three associates and have a casual conversation, asking anything that’s on their minds (What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on? How did our three founding partners start the company? How do you balance work and personal life?). These lunches provide a very informal setting for our interns to get to know people they may not necessarily interact with on projects.
The interns are also asked to participate in experiences or seminars put on by various disciplines in our office. These allow our interns to learn about things like what a mechanical engineer does on a project, how our graphic designer creates branded environments using a client’s branding and mission, or the difference between an EPDM roof and TPO roof from our in-house Registered Roof Consultant. These seminars are intended to increase the knowledge our interns will take with them into their future careers to make them better designers.
Along with the experiences offered to our interns, each semester, they’re tasked with completing a research project – anywhere from an individually-led project to competing in a team design competition. The individually-led project tasks the interns with pursuing a topic that aligns with their passion. These projects have included studying kinetic façades, 3D printing, parametric design, and designing for wellness. These projects allow the interns to research something they’re passionate about and share that passion with the rest of the office. Team competitions expose them to what it’s like to design and work as a team towards a common goal, similar to a typical project team at a design firm. The competitions DC interns have competed in include a work-live hostel for artists located anywhere in the world, and an urban installation encouraging pedestrians to interact with their environment. The team competitions enhance the communication skills and decision-making abilities necessary for a design profession. The projects are led by the interns with guidance from their Advocates.
We believe in investing in our younger staff, and growing our employees from interns to full-time associates. The Intern Development Program is a necessary step to attract young and talented interns to our office and provide them with a framework that will make their time at DC meaningful and memorable. We believe in People-First Places, and that means we believe in developing our people into better designers and better individuals who will help our team continue to improve our clients’ worlds.
If you are a college student, and our internship program interests you, please email your resume and portfolio to Rebecca Welch, Director of Human Resources.
Bobby Beuchel RA
Associate, Registered Architect