InternView: Expectations vs. Reality

InternView: Expectations vs. Reality

When our summers interns first walked through the doors of 2200 11 Stanwix this June, they had a few goals set out for themselves – and myths to bust – for their first real experiences at a growing firm. We reluctantly had to say goodbye last Friday, but not without one last homework assignment before heading back to their respective programs. We asked them to dust off their application essays, reflect on the goals they set for themselves, and share a favorite photo memory from these past 12 weeks.


Design Focus: Jamie – Interior Design

Q: In your essay, you mention wanting to learn which type(s) of design you are most interested in. Did you accomplish this goal and did anything surprise you?

A: Over the summer I worked on several different kinds of projects, my favorite being education. I originally went into this internship unsure of what area of design I would find the most compelling, but after working on one higher education project throughout the entire summer and being involved in most every aspect of that project, I think that any area of education – K-12 or Higher Education – is the kind of design work I can see myself enjoying.

My favorite photo memory from the summer is the office in front of the Stanley Cup (above). Although I am not really a sports person, it was the first time during my time here that the whole office really came together for something everyone was excited about. This moment was just the beginning of making a number of great friends in a very short period of time!


Collaboration & Workflow: Shannon – Architecture

Q: Your focus this summer was to learn about how a larger firm operates and how projects are managed with multiple designers. What did you learn from the collaborative environment at IKM and is there anything you weren’t expecting?

A: I was thrilled that I had the chance to work on multiple projects with different people. Working in a collaborative environment taught me the importance of communication both in and outside of the firm with contractors and engineers. As an architectural intern, I expected to ask questions, but I noticed that even those with years of experience also asked frequent questions. Designers needed to confirm with each other all of the aspects of the design to ensure that everything was consistent. I also had the opportunity to attend a coordination meeting during Design Development where all of the consulting engineers came into the office to coordinate all aspects of the design. Prior to this experience I hadn’t thought about how much communication is necessary between disciplines in order to construct a project.

In addition to my own projects, I also learned a lot by attending Design Reviews. I had the opportunity to look at other projects in the firm, and most importantly hear feedback from others. Since a large group of people usually attended reviews, it was an opportunity to absorb a lot of information and ideas. Through collaboration this summer, I learned a lot about architecture and also feel that I’ve grown as a designer. I enjoyed working in a collaborative environment, and can’t wait to do so again when I graduate.

This photo was taken during demolition when we discovered a shaft with conduit running through it. Experts had to assess whether the conduit and ducts were live before the architects and engineers could decide how to address the conflict. Through this experience, I learned to expect the unexpected.



Real World Application: Sigita – Architecture

Q: While a deep knowledge of architectural theory is important, you joined IKM with the hopes of filling the gaps in business experience that are not covered in an educational setting. What real world skill(s) will you take back to your Master’s program having worked in a firm?

A:Through my experience at IKM, I was able to more fully understand a project’s process.  Due to the nature of school, design is a heavy focus and I had not had the opportunity to fully understand the complexities of a project start to finish.  From client meetings, to meetings with consultants, to working on various parts of a project’s life and working on different scales of projects, I am now able to more fully grasp how architecture works in the professional realm.  Understanding the constraints a budget puts on a project, as well as how much a design may change after reviewing the cost estimate were valuable lessons.  Working with clients really helped me understand how before we, as architects, move forward we must have their approval, and helped me learn how to incorporate innovative solutions into their needs and desires.  I used software in new ways that helped tell the story of the design and created documents for construction.  Having this new knowledge will help ground my ideas and better understand the implications of my decisions as I return for my Master’s program.

I had so many great experiences here at IKM throughout the span of the summer that it is difficult to pick one moment.  While I didn’t take as many pictures as I would like, the cohesiveness of the firm and how friendly and helpful everyone was stuck out to me.  I enjoyed the moments we, as a staff, shared together both in and out of the office including time spent playing softball, taking a picture with the Stanley Cup and hanging out at the summer picnic.  The work environment plays a big role and the atmosphere here made IKM a great place to work.