“You can be told and taught so many things in school, but it’s not until there is a client in front of you that it all becomes real.”
This post was written by Maisie Sanderson, a junior at the Wentworth Institute of Technology. She served as the Architectural Intern for Placework during the summer of 2022.
This fall I will be a junior in the Wentworth Institute of Technology’s B. S. Architecture program. Wentworth builds practical experience into the curriculum by requiring architecture students to complete two internships: one during the sophomore summer and the second junior spring semester.
As the first required internship process approached, my classmates and I readied ourselves at the gate, ready to be let loose. My search began in early February. I wondered how to break down the vast umbrella term of architecture. What did I want to gain from my first internship, knowing that the experience would leave an impression and mold my future as an architect?
I filtered through the architecture firms in the area. I was surprised by how many lived behind the walls of the streets I’d walked around for many years. When I began to reach out to firms around me, I learned quickly that my ability to speak on the phone came in handy as many places only had a phone number as a means of contact. When the email chains began, the intricacy of formalities, or lack thereof, was something that needed direct and constant attention.
As I narrowed in on places that would host the most valuable learning opportunities, I felt the pulse you might feel when you near a finish line. I had confidence that I’d land where I was supposed to, but of course that nagging thought of not finding a firm before the deadline stuck to the back of my brain.
Placework came forward as my top choice because I felt like their mission and my hopes for the future of architecture aligned. Placework’s push for conscious building practices such as sustainability and energy conservation, and their ethical workplace standards really spoke to me.
Once at work, I began to settle in. While the days and then weeks whistled by, my eyes got wider and wider as I was invited into an architect’s world. You can be told and taught so many things in school, but it’s not until there is a client in front of you that it all becomes real.
Everyone at Placework contributed something to my collection of knowledge. My main goals this summer were to learn how to use Revit (CAD software,) enhance my understanding of construction documents, and learn how to collaborate with clients. I also appreciated the way the office culture made my workplace feel human. Regular team meetings offered an opportunity to connect and learn more about my colleagues’ individual interests and points of view.
I got to be a part of almost all the projects going on in the office and it shifted my perspective of what I’d like to do when I graduate from school. Before I started my internship this summer, I was very interested in historic preservation. Although it’s still quite interesting to me, it doesn’t fuel the fire beneath me the way that sustainable and passive design now does. As I return to school this fall, I will be more conscious of certain standards during my studio work: sustainability of materials, the lifetime of the building, programmatic placement, and much more.
My hunch that my first internship would leave an important impression was correct. I am looking forward to the opportunity to learn from another experience in the spring!
Are you an architecture student seeking an internship, or know someone who is? Reach out to Placework – we would love the chance to connect!