Internships are a crucial part of a student architect's life. Presently, the period of internship is for a whole year. It is very important that you get into a good architecture firm for your training, as that will have a huge influence on your future career. One learns a lot more during the internship than from the college, especially the practical aspects of the profession. So it is crucial to get into a good firm for gaining great exposure.
I did my internship with Ar.Gurjit Singh in Matharoo Associates in Ahmedabad, which is a very professional firm doing some really excellent work and I must say that those six months really changed my life for the better. I learned how a real office works, how projects are taken forward, how one interacts with clients, meaning of professionalism etc, which you never learn in college. That internship really showed me how a professional practice works and how a student has to learn so much additionally to be ready for working in the real world. I can't state enough how important it is to get into a good office for doing your architectural training.
Today, it is very difficult to get into a good firm for internship. This is because there are so many students out there who are looking to get into these limited good offices. Presently, there are around 500 colleges in India as per the Council of Architecture's website. Assuming there are a minimum of 40 students per batch, that means there are at least 20,000 students who would be looking to get into various offices for training in a given time. Of course, a lot of the colleges have more than 40 students per batch and newer architecture colleges are coming up all the time. So the number of students applying for training is only bound to get higher and higher. The competition is really intense.
I can give you a small example. The firm I work in, Stapati, got over 750 applications for internship this year, out of which we could offer internships for only 12 students.... that is,only around 1.5% of the applicants got selected for internships! It is that hard to get selected for training in a good architecture firm.
So how do you go about getting into that dream office for your internship? I would say that it is all about planning and good preparation. You need to start early and meticulously plan your application process till you get into a good architectural firm.
Ideally, your planning process should start atleast six months before the date you want to join for internship, if not earlier. The first step would be to start working on your portfolio. A good portfolio is the only way in which you could get selected into a good office. So work hard on creating a very well crafted, professional and creative portfolio which would highlight your skills and strengths and show your best academic work.
Parallely you should start doing your research to identify the good firms where you want to apply. This should be a fairly large list and shouldn't be confined to a handful offices only where you will apply. Always remember the competition is intense, so apply to the maximum number of firms. If you get selected for more than one firm, you can always have the option of selecting the one you like and not join the others. That is an ideal situation, for which you'll have to work hard and plan well. Select firms whose works you like. Do a thorough research to identify the good firms. Along with the work, take into considerations things like which city is the firm based, as the larger architectural scenario and culture of the city also plays an important role. Ahmedabad would be a very good city for the architectural intern. Likewise, Bangalore, Mumbai, Auroville etc are a few other places which would add a lot of value to your decision. One other factor to consider would be the type of practice and the size of the firm. There are small, medium and large firms out there, each with its own advantages and constraints. So do factor that also into your decision.
So once you have prepared your portfolio as well as list of architects to do internship with, you start applying to the different architecture offices. Generally you would be required to send in your portfolio along with your application. Some offices require you to email it while some others require you to upload it on their website, while some others even have a dedicated email id for sending portfolios. Make sure you send your portfolio with a good covering letter, to the correct option for each office. Ideally this has to be done 3-4 months before your joint date for internship.
Once you send in your portfolio, wait for some time and probably after a week or so, give a call to the office to enquire the status of your application. Please be thoroughly professional in your approach. Also, be patient as a lot of the offices some times give the confirmation towards the end only. In the meantime, keep exploring newer architects and architecture offices and send your portfolio to these offices as well. You never know when you'll find the right architecture office for internship.