Bridging the Gap:
MAF + AIA Michigan Summer 2020 Internship Bridge Grants Program


The COVID-19 global pandemic and accompanying workplace lockdown have impacted virtually every area of our lives. A recent New York Times article revealed that nearly 60% of college and university students who secured 2020 summer internships with architectural firms had those opportunities evaporate – and with them, the chance for hands on, interactive learning and mentorship that would help shape their future careers.

To help assist architecture students impacted in the state of Michigan, the Michigan Architectural Foundation (MAF) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Michigan have partnered on the MAF + AIA Michigan Summer Internship Bridge Grants Program.

The goal of the program is to help bridge the current gap in available student architectural internship programs in Michigan, and preserve educational, experience, and career-boosting opportunities normally provided through the traditional internship experience. The program, which began July 6 and concluded mid-August, includes students from Michigan’s five architectural schools participating in concurrent internships with Michigan architecture firms. Internships ran a minimum of six weeks; firms could individually elect to extend their student internship periods.

“Michigan’s college and university architecture students have been impacted significantly by COVID’s impact on workplace operations, and architecture is a profession which relies heavily on student internships for gaining critical hands on learning experience.” said Tim Casai, FAIA, 2020 MAF President. “Through this unique internship grant program, MAF and AIA Michigan felt it important to demonstrate to students that we remain committed to helping put them on the path to future career success, and to becoming well-rounded architects.”

Each of Michigan’s five architectural schools nominated students for participation. The schools were then responsible for placing students with architectural firms, and securing commitments for firms to provide meaningful, supervised work experience for their interns, either remotely, in person, or a combination of the two, for 20 hours per week for the duration of their internship. Each student intern received a $1,200 educational grant for their program participation. Program funding has been provided by AIA Michigan, MAF, and 2020 AIA Michigan President and MAF Trustee Norman L. Hamann, Jr., AIA, LEED AP.

“The pandemic has impacted architecture firm operations overall, including their ability to support traditional architectural internship programs,” said Hamann. “The Internship Bridge Program not only aids architecture students, it helps firms in their efforts to support MAF’s mission of nurturing and educating the next generation of architectural talent. We look forward to feedback from the participating students, and from the firms who generously provided time and people resources to quickly switch gears and help make the program a reality.”