How can I get a short-term, labor-intensive job in a field I'd like to start a career in?
January 19, 2006 10:48 AM   Subscribe

How can I get a short-term, labor-intensive job in a field I'd like to start a career in?

I currently work a series of three month contract positions, and my current position will end in mid-April. The next contract won't start until sometime in mid-June or so, so I'd like a short-term job in the meantime - from mid-April to June.

That sounds fairly easy, but here's the rub: I'd like to get a job, or "internship" if possible, in some kind of interior design/architecture field. My contract position is completely unrelated to this, so it would be nice to have a break and do something different in the interim.

In the fall, my wife and I will possibly be moving to another city where I'll look into started a graduate degree in interior design and architecture. What I'd like to do now is simply work for a few weeks doing a lot of the labor-side elements (i.e. installation, carpentry, moving equipment, light construction, etc.) - but at the same time, try to learn a bit about the field before starting a graduate degree in it. I already aborted a graduate program once due to not fully understanding the career, and I'd like not to repeat that mistake.
Ideally, I'd like some kind of paid-internship where I'd learn a lot about the labor-side of things, and potentially learn more about the interior design/architecture field.
I'm concerned, though, because I wonder if there are any contractor/union issues that might prevent me from doing some kind of short-term stint like this.
If it helps, I'm in Chicago (if anyone might have any potential contacts!)

Any advice? Thanks!
posted by itchi23 to Work & Money (4 answers total)
Are there any Habitat for Humanity projects in your area? There's certainly no union restrictions on volunteer labor.
posted by phearlez at 10:50 AM on January 19, 2006

As phearlez suggested, Habitat for Humanity is a great way to get wide-ranging construction experience, though they generally have few (or no) paid construction positions.

A quick search reveals several Habitat affiliates in the Chicagoland area, so you can probably find one which works for you and get exposure to several different parts of the construction process.

You might call around and ask if they have what's usually called a "Blitz build" going on; in a blitz build, they build a house from foundation-to-finish in a week or so, meaning you can get exposed to all parts of the building process.
posted by JMOZ at 11:58 AM on January 19, 2006

Prior AxMe thread regarding breaking into architecture.

Habitat's a good idea for construction experience, especially because if you go into actualy for-profit construction you'll just end up learning more about how to clean up a job site than actually building anything (assuming you don't come in with any previous experience).
posted by LionIndex at 12:10 PM on January 19, 2006

It's confusing to me why you'd want to work on site to get experience relevant to architecture . . . . unless I'm misunderstanding, I think any field position you'll get will surely just want your sweat and skill.

You'll learn more about construction administration, see more plans (and details) come across your desk, get to more varied jobsites, and meet more architects if you go work for a general contractor / construction manager assisting the estimators and project managers. Just let them know you don't want to be stuck filing! Or perhaps even in a developers office?
posted by jamesonandwater at 12:25 PM on January 19, 2006

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