“Not a single day was boring and there wasn’t a single moment in the entire internship that wasn’t my favourite part”
B.Arch, 5th year student, School of Architecture and Planning, Anna University
KSM Architecture Interviewer: Niveddita J (GT)
Interviewee: Sai Sudharshan
GT: When should one begin to apply for internships?
Sai Sudharshan: This answer is specifically meant for students pursuing architecture. The ideal time to apply for internships would be after the end of one’s third year i.e. any time during the 7th semester, preferably in July. It is better if you apply well in advance. Since July is already over, you can keep applying until September/October to secure an internship by the 8th semester.
GT: How were you able to acquire an internship at one of the leading firms in the field of architecture, KSM Architecture and what was the selection process like?
Sai Sudharshan: This isn’t just for KSM Architecture, but getting an internship in any architectural firm requires you to have a strong portfolio which should consist of all your academic and miscellaneous work along with an excellent resume which also has a lot of weightage. My portfolio consists of 3 academic architectural design projects, a product design project (a furniture prototype), which was an added advantage, and also numerous sketches and portraits. I was also a part of the design team in Guindy Times last year as a graphic designer so overall my resume was pretty strong and detailed.
I had shortlisted firms to apply to based on my interests (vernacular and climate-responsive architecture). I had applied to over 80 firms, out of which only 10 responded; 7 of them saying there was no vacancy for internships. I got offers in 3 firms, including KSM Architecture, which was the firm I was solely aiming for. I had to attend a personal interview with KSM Architecture and ended up getting selected. I started my internship on the 9th of December 2019 and it went on for around 6 months.
GT: Can you tell us about the projects you were working on and if any of them were group projects? If so, how were your team members and your experience working in a group?
Sai Sudharshan: The core ideology behind my projects was climate-responsive architecture. The projects were not necessarily restricted to a single typology. We worked with schools and factory buildings and had different teams for different projects. Including myself, there were 5 interns in total, and working with them was pleasant since we dealt with the projects mostly by ourselves. The people there were really friendly; especially the chief architects. They treated us like friends instead of colleagues and not a single day I spent there was boring. I was able to gain a lot of practical knowledge in the field while working with them, which was something that cannot be taught in a college curriculum. While working in groups we were constantly occupied with the projects and it was a really interesting experience that we got to learn a lot from.
GT: What would you say was your favourite part of the internship and what was the biggest challenge you faced during the same?
Sai Sudharshan: There wasn’t a single moment in the whole internship that wasn’t my favourite part. My 8th semester was the most enjoyable one I’ve had in my college life so far because it was stress-free. We finished our work in the office itself, and that was something different from college. Our working hours were pretty relaxed too; they were from 9.30 AM-6 PM. It just helped that the architecture of the office also happened to be amazing! It’s said to be one of the 11 most beautiful offices in the world to work in and was even featured on Business Insider. Overall, I didn’t particularly have any cons or challenges there, apart from the fact that I wasn’t previously experienced in the software SketchUp but we all managed to learn how to use it with time. That was the only challenge I had faced; apart from that, it was an enjoyable experience.
GT: How would say this internship benefitted you and your career goals?
Sai Sudharshan: I always felt that being an architect, we mainly focus on the design and aesthetic side of things and hand the rest over to civil or structural engineers and consultants. That notion is broken once we enter office; we’re expected to know things and learn concepts and details along with construction drawings. Working in an office has taught us a lot; it served as a platform for me to enhance my skills. It showed me a mindset that I want to keep when working in a corporate environment after college. That being said, it hasn’t changed who I am; I’m still the same as I was before.
GT: What are some of the important life lessons that you took away from your time at the internship? Please do enlighten us.
Sai Sudharshan: Honestly speaking, I wasn’t quite punctual for classes in college. It was the same at the office initially, but we weren’t criticized for that, they were pretty chill about it. But being in a professional environment, I realized that it isn’t right to turn up late so I’d say the first lesson I learned, was to always be punctual. The next thing this internship taught me is to have better conversations with people. I usually speak without restraint, but after attending client meetings, I learned how to talk to clients, deal with them, and win them over. I learned that the way you speak and the words you use make a big difference in convincing not only clients, but also people in general if you want them to listen to you. Learning the art of persuasion and how to talk to and deal with people, in general, was a very valuable lesson for me.
GT: What are your plans for the future? Do you plan on pursuing a career associated with what you interned in?
Sai Sudharshan: My plans for the future are a little blurry at the moment. I’m very engrossed in specializing in Product Design which has quickly become a new-found interest of mine. While this internship has provided me with a great insight into the field of architecture and how it is a great field to work in, I’m most probably planning on doing a Masters in Product Design. But I’m not exactly sure now, due to the unfortunate situation that we’re in. Perhaps things will be clearer soon. Let’s see how it goes.
GT: Would you recommend KSM architecture to other students for internships and jobs?
Sai Sudharshan: Definitely! It’s a 10/10 firm and has a very sophisticated office. I guarantee that the working experience there is brilliant: the atmosphere, the place, the amazing colleagues, everything. People who are interested in climate-based architecture should try applying here. I would absolutely recommend this place to others.
GT: What do you think about GT’s intern diaries series?
Sai Sudharshan: Intern Diaries is a very valuable series. I had firsthand experience last year, of working with the previous edition of the series. It’s an insightful series for people who have no idea about what to do regarding internships. I really like the initiative and think it’s very innovative. It’s an amazing and emergent initiative, so keep it up guys!
The Guindy Times thanks Sai Sudharshan for sharing his experience and wishes him all the very best for his future endeavours.