Equipped to Lead and Succeed

Want a Full-Time Job by Graduation? Here’s How to Do It

by Melody Kim, USF News

Concesse Nyirazikunze ’23, an architecture graduate from Rwanda, explains how she landed three internships during her time at USF — including the one that led to her full-time job.

Tell us about your internships.

I interned at Hart Howerton [an architecture firm] over the spring. We have to take an internship class for the last few months of school. At the end of my internship, I was hired to be a full-time designer. I started my full-time job in June.

In my internship, I helped draft documents, create presentations, and do 3D modeling and rendering. It was amazing to be in the field and see the practical side of it all. Being uncomfortable in a new environment is not the easiest experience at first, but once you I got used to it, it turned out for the best.

For my first internship, I worked with a private architect the summer after my freshman year. It was very casual because it was my mentor’s friend, but it also required that I manage my time and hold myself accountable.

The summer after my sophomore year, I interned with a construction company based in the city. It was not totally related to my field, but it was good to go into the construction industry and see how things are done there. I was the only girl in my office so it taught me the reality of the industry and how fast everything moves. You have to be serious and professional.

How did you get your internships?

I got my construction internship through my professor. He knew the owner of the company and emailed our class saying the company was looking for summer interns. I sent them my portfolio and they got back to me.

For my most recent internship, I cold-applied. It can be heartbreaking; sometimes no one responds. It’s a risk with so much uncertainty, but that’s what we were doing as a class.

What have you learned so far in your full-time job?

Now that I’m full-time, there’s more structure, commitment, and responsibilities. My job is downtown next to the Ferry Building and I live in the Outer Sunset, so my commute is an hour. I cannot miss my train or I’ll be late. I’ve gotten settled into this routine.

The other thing I realized is that I don’t want to be socially isolated and I want to keep my social connections and relationships. The first week of my job, I didn’t do anything other than work and sleep and watch TV. You soon start realizing that you need to have a schedule, take care of yourself, and have a good work/life balance.

Any words of advice for future international students?

Know your visa type and status so you know ahead of time what kinds of work opportunities you’re allowed to do. Most international students don’t think about it until they get a job or internship. ISSS [International Student and Scholar Services] has a lot of workshops about work authorizations and finding a job as an international student.