Interviewees: Pooja Lakshmi S, Shweta P N
Interviewer: Sri Sakthi Varshini
Interviewer : What are your areas of interest?
Pooja Lakshmi : I love to play basketball and the piano. I spend most of my time working on architecture. I am hoping to start some sort of individual practice this year.
Shweta : I am good at drawing and sketching and I am a dancer.
Interviewer: When should one start to apply for internships?
Pooja Lakshmi: If you are looking at all over India in particular, I think you should start applying around October and November (max) or else it could get a little bit competitive , all the people in and around India with different timelines will apply for all the firms. If you are looking at smaller firms or the firms around Chennai, December to January would be fine.
Shweta: It would be better if you apply four months prior. The earlier you apply, the more options you get.
Interviewer: How does one prepare a perfect portfolio or resume?
Pooja Lakshmi: Ensure that you design what you actually want to showcase. If you are really into a certain type of architecture, make sure you showcase that in your portfolio. It’s all about how you present your designs and actions, no one is going to sit and look at every design, they are going to glimpse through it. They see what you are about to do and what you can do in terms of software which is crucial. Moreover, even though the design is important, people place more value on showcasing and presentation.
Shweta: So, if you are preparing a portfolio, firstly, you must provide a CV or resume to the interviewer. The resume talks about you, your areas of interest and progress in the four years of college education. As it goes, the portfolio itself must carry a few projects that define your capabilities in not just design, but software too. You can also express your style. Some people may attach the workshops, journalism and photographs they have attended or taken. Give major focus on what you have done architecturally, that would be the best approach. It should be concise, not exceeding 30 pages and following a strict format to avoid confusion.
Interviewer: What is the selection process or criteria in Auroville?
Pooja Lakshmi :Auroville has a good collection of vernacular firms. Most people who apply to Auroville are interested in alternative construction practices, so compared to other places like Bangalore, there is a sharp contrast in the style of architecture that we aspire for. So, make sure you know what you want. Moreover, Auroville has a list of firms, you can go through the list and apply by calling them up and emailing them. Try to go through their website and see what kind of projects they do and whether your interests align. The main architectural firms in Auroville have a hands-on approach, if you are interested in that, they will literally make you do the construction work. Decide what you want, go through the list in Auroville page and choose the firm to apply to.
Shweta:You have some personal criteria, which is also important. Some people prefer to be involved in-site; they must look for firms that provide the option. There are some firms which have a certain number of projects that are dealt in and out of state, so you need to communicate with the firm and give your preferences before committing to the firm.
Interviewer:Please share your experience as interns at Auroville.
Pooja Lakshmi: Auroville is a fun place. I think it is a worthwhile experience to have during your internship especially when you go with a friend, there is a lot of fun. It is a welcoming community. They have a variety of events going on, interns can go to random events every week. It is an interesting experience that can’t be gained in Chennai or Bangalore. It’s not a city, it is a closed community. You can meet a lot of new people and get a lot of experience. We met many people from SPA Delhi and NIT Calicut, all those people come to Auroville from interest, and you get to interact with them.
Shweta:You have a lot of people coming from various countries just as architectural students to Auroville, so you get to talk with many people from various institutes. It is not only about studies, there also a chance to connect which is one of the best things at Auroville. It’s a bustling hub for architecture. Fortunately, the firm we went to allowed us to participate in all aspects of architecture/architect job. We were involved in the site work and designing work.
Interviewer:What were your expectations as interns and were they fulfilled later?
Pooja Lakshmi:Generally, you do not have an idea of how the firm would be. What is learnt in college and what is done in the firm is completely different. You will not be looking at concepts or designs. In a firm you will be tackling day to day issues. If there is an issue with a slab, you must draw and see how it can be fixed economically. In my opinion, unrealistic expectations on amount of work in internships must be avoided. I think being eager to learn is the most important thing, be open minded.
Shweta: It is all about groundwork, a firm is not necessarily only design , there is construction, management, client contact and many other domains. I think willingness to be flexible in the type of work and an eagerness to learn is important.
Interviewer:Did you feel any drawbacks during your internship at Auroville?
Pooja Lakshmi:Since Auroville is in a forest, the basic amenities do not match the cities and the comfort level is a lot less. It is something that you should be informed of.
Shweta:My experience was pretty great, and it differs from person to person. Our firm was helpful in many ways. For example, Auroville is basically a forest kind of a place , so there is a lot of transportation issues. Knowledge of riding two wheelers is an advantage as commuting inside Auroville is an issue. I think this is one of the drawbacks but there are a lot of positives. It is definitely a fresh experience because you meet different kinds of people from all over the world.
Interviewer:Can you share some of your future plans?
Pooja Lakshmi: I haven’t decided anything right now. It takes some time to plan and decide a path.
Shweta:There are two paths, pursuing masters or going to work, but I haven’t decided yet.
Interviewer: What are your thoughts on Intern Diaries- an initiative by Guindy Time?
Pooja Lakshmi: It is really a great initiative. I listened to Sai Sudarshan’s Intern diaries, which gave me clarity when I applied for my internships. I think we should do more of these to transparently showcase the process of internships, ,as it gets overwhelming at times.
Shweta:Definitely, the students’ point of view differs from the faculties’ view. I don’t think faculty know the current process as extensively as students.