I understand the requirements and efforts necessary for me to apply to such programs as a liberal arts undergrad, but in order to make myself more competitive and to get a better feel for the profession, I think I want to pursue an internship/job opportunity related to architecture for this summer.
Unfortunately, this is incredibly difficult for someone with minimal CAD experience and no undergraduate studies in architecture. I've written about buildings quite a bit both as a journalist and in university, but other than attacking this problem from that angle, I don't really know how to get my foot in the door. Any suggestions?
Congrats on your desire to pursue architecture and to become an architect
As for getting yourself in the door of an architecture firm prior to your graduate degree and with minimal experience, I offer the following:
First, do your homework on potential employers - architecture firms and others. Ideally, you wish to work for an architecture firm, but there may be other design-related disciplines/employers that may also be helpful in your transition. The AIA Illinois has a book entitled Archipages which lists all AIA-member owned firms in the state of Illinois. The AIA Chicago has a website with many Chicago-based firms.
Next, you need to do an inventory of your skills (separate from AutoCad). Although you may not have architectural skills, you do have skills that may be of interest to potential employers. You mention writing - perhaps, you can be hired for a firm's marketing department to write proposals, marketing briefs, etc. You can still be valuable to a firm even without architectural skills.
As well, you need to connect with architecture firms beyond the job search. Become involved with the AIA Chicago (attend lectures, volunteer, etc.) to meet architects and architectural students/graduates who may help with connections. Consider attending lectures at either IIT or UIC and meet those others that attend.
As you write - have you thought about blogging about buildings and architecture to become more known.
These are some ideas -- keep connecting and consider obtaining Becoming an Architect, 2nd ed.