Monday, March 29, 2010

A year of Intern 101

Well, hot dog!

It just occurred to me that I've been running this blog for a year now! (Well, a year ago tomorrow, really.) It all started with this post, which I wrote initially as a semi-lark because I was so furious at what this economy was doing to intern architects and just needed to vent. I realized as I was writing it that I wanted to do something more. I wanted to help the future of my profession in some way because I feared that all the really good sharp talent was going to leave. And I couldn't let that happen without some kind of fight.

A grad school friend was visiting me this weekend, and we had several good conversations/debates/discussions about what makes a good architect, what kind of interns are firms looking for, and so on. He made the point that my redlining of resumes may mean that I'm applying my very-practical viewpoint (gained from working at a more production-oriented firm) to resumes that aren't meant to ever go to firms like mine. Through my super-practical filter, I might be inadvertently squelching some good thinking and creativity when it comes to someone's resume. I countered that by having a resume be too specific or too artsy or too straight-ahead in a bad economy, an intern might talk someone out of hiring them, when the experience of working for that firm might be good for both intern and firm. Ultimately, though, I'd like to think that my readers are sharp enough to know if a redline I've made is simply not going to work for them. After all, what I'm providing is advice, not Gospel.

And I provide that advice because it feels like for at least some of you, there's no one else available to provide this info. When I started this blog and told a colleague about it at dinner one evening, he practically blew the paper napkin off the table when he sniffed in disdain: "You're babying these interns, Lu--they need to suck it up and ask someone at their office, not come whining to you, and you're gonna keep that from happening." I didn't counter his argument, as he was making this proclamation after a few margaritas, and I know better than to argue with drunk architects. But my counterargument, had he been sober enough to hear it, would be this: in order for interns to ask questions, people have to be available to ask. And just being at the same office as people with knowledge isn't enough--those fellow experienced architects must be physically or technologically available, and they must also be verbally, emotionally, and mentally available. I once worked for an architect who was always busy, and while she was very helpful and knowledgeable, it took me a long time to figure that out. Every time I would ask her, "do you have a moment for a question?" her immediate response was "No." She meant it as a form of commiseration--oh, we're all so busy!--but I took it as her way of blowing me off.

So, as I thank you all for checking in and commenting, I'd like to start this new year of Intern 101 with a couple of questions for you:
  • how did you find this blog?
  • who do you ask for professional advice?
Thanks again for visiting, and remember that this site works (if it works at all) based on your questions and comments, so keep 'em coming!

All the very best,


  1. Happy 1 year Blogoversary!! :) :)

    I found this blog to be very insightful for us - the Architecture students and just starting out interns. This blog has answers for almost every question an intern usually has in mind during the initial phase. After reading this blog, it kind of prepares us to get into the arena, the real world where mistakes are not really taken lightly or where the real learning happens.Nevertheless,this blog is like a text book which is a must-read for every Architectural student in their senior year or students who are just-starting-out as interns.

    Wholesome good advice is given by an experienced architect in the field related to portfolio to asking for a rise to office etiquette and work-relationship advice which is not so easily found else-where.

    This blog is specially helpful to those who dont yet have a mentor to go to for guidance and advice. So you are like the mentor-for-all, irrespective of nationality, race, color or language.

    For professional advice: First I skim through this blog hoping the query is answered somewhere, just like how I do to get info in text books. If I dont get it then I'll obviously send an e-mail to you.

    I am a little shy to talk to my professors.
    So,for local perspective, I usually ask my super seniors, like 4 to 5 year seniors to me, who can relate well to me and the modern day circumstances, requirements etc and will be able to give their opinions & advice + guidance.

  2. I found this blog because I was definitely struggling as an intern architect and needed some outside advice. I found a blog about why architects drink just goofing around one day and it linked to this.

  3. I found this blog while looking for resume advice... I'm graduating in May, have zero work experience, and no one really wants to hire me because of it. It's driving me nuts!
    Your blog has really been helping to take some of the anxiety out of preparing for an internship! I know I'll be following it while I'm searching, and while I'm interning. Thank you so much!
    Now, if only I could muster the courage to send you my resume! :)

  4. I am a NYC intern, and I was looking for some advice. I certainly found it here!