The Scoop on Architecture Internships

By Guest Blogger Roberto Martinez, Professional Studio Intern

How does one define an architect? For an architecture student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, one might not really know how to respond to that other than: an architect is a designer of buildings. While that might be true in some cases, in reality, being an architect means much more. It starts once you are out in the real world—in the day-to-day operations of a firm.

Interns at Top San Diego Architecture Firm LPACal Poly’s motto states, “Learn by Doing.” Internships are a great opportunity for students in school to get a first-hand look at what really goes on in a firm way before they graduate and if indeed it is what they really want to pursue. During the time a student is in school for architecture, every lecture class given is a theory of what might happen in firms around the country—and the world too. Once inside a firm, students are handed real life tasks, and it is then when our eyes are really opened and life begins to change. To know that architecture is more than just designing, but to always keep in mind that the business requires working together with different disciplines—including structural engineers, construction managers, etc.—to bring a project to fruition.

I decided to be part of an architecture internship, for the sole reason of gaining work experience. A classroom can only teach so much. Working in a firm means learning valuable lessons each and every minute of the day. Being a part of a firm, a place where there is much emphasis on teamwork, will greatly help me evolve as a designer and as a person too. During my short time at LPA, so far, the office has reminded me of our studios back at Cal Poly—where everyone strives to help one another and motivate each other to do better work.

Choosing LPA was an easy choice for me when it came time to select which firm I wanted to be a part of. Sustainable design has always been an important component during the design phase, as we think about the future and the generations to come. LPA, being a leader in sustainable design field, was the easiest and best choice I’ve made. I’m sure my fellow interns and I will learn a lot and sharpen many skills that will help our careers in the future. Another selling point for me in choosing LPA, had to do with it being an integrated design firm, which means that they have fields such as landscape architecture, engineering, interior designers, planners and architectural designers in-house. This benefits the learning experience by getting a glimpse of other professions at work. It’s also an opportunity to learn how to communicate and cooperate with other disciplines throughout a project—a valuable lesson not usually experienced at school. You see, engineers tend to be very analytical while architects tend to have more of an art bent so melding the two is important.

Although my stay here at LPA will be a short one, three months, I plan on having an open mind and a willingness to take advantage of the chance given to me—as not everyone is as fortunate to work for a company as great as this one. I will return to Cal Poly a better designer and a better person, and for that I am truly thankful.

For more information about the LPA-Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Professional Studio Program, e-mail dgilmore[at]lpainc[dot]com. Image caption: LPA-Cal Poly Professional Studio Interns Felice Fam, Victoria Nizzoli, and Roberto Martinez.