The 21st century workplace is a vibrant, challenging and ever changing environment. From the erosion of professional boundaries between disciplines; the broadening scope of design projects; the holistic recognition of the importance of sustainable design; the off-shoring of selected project components; and the increased public awareness of broad design issues, the practice of architecture and the role of the architect are being redefined. These changes are critical to the future education of an architect and the possibilities for our students to hone their skills within this new landscape are immense and invaluable. The Architecture Department is committed to offering our students opportunities to meet the new demands and professional challenges of our century and an important part of this plan is to expand our internship/co-op offerings to metropolitan areas.
For over two decades, the core of the Cal Poly internship program has been located in San Francisco as a professional internship/design studio; other student placement occurs in the Los Angeles area in Professional Studios/coop opportunities. Currently participation in this experience is not required of all students. However, the Architecture Department is increasingly encouraging participation as these opportunities are important to learn by doing. Internship/co-op experiences are critical for other reasons as well: they offer students valuable experience in an office environment prior to graduation; thus may be the stepping stone to post-graduation placement; they provide important resume building; and they can introduce students to offices they might not feel qualified to approach for a permanent position. Because of the importance of these experiences, the Architecture Department has as a goal to increase the Internship/co-op program to include all students during their 3rd or 4th year for a minimum of one quarter. Given the number of students in the program, this will mean providing internship/co-op opportunities outside of California, which will in turn offer a wider range of experiences to architecture students.
The importance of the diversity of these internship/co-op possibilities should not be underestimated, as this first foray into professional life is an important one. Internships/co-ops within the ‘safety’ of the educational experience provide an opportunity for students to dream; to live in a metropolitan area for the first time; to work in an office with national or international name recognition; and to work on the opposite side of the country or the world.
In addition to the learning outcomes, the dissemination of students through internship/co-op placement spreads awareness of the high quality of the Cal Poly graduates which in turn increases Cal Poly’s stature nationally and leads to better job placement of all graduates.
Unfortunately internships/co-ops pose a financial hardship for some students for the following reasons:
Since these internships/co-ops often lead to post graduate opportunities, it is important that every student have the opportunity to pursue their dream.