Interning at WA • Q & A with our Talented Interns

We’ve had the pleasure of working with 5 talented interns this summer: Amy Federman, Di Kong, Colleen Loughlin, Zihan Yang, and Su Zhang. Each has undertaken projects that are meaningful for the firm, as well as (we hope!), for them. From generating an infographic for presenting sustainable features, to 2D and 3D renderings and physical models, our interns have had opportunities to learn and move projects forward. Before their departure, we wanted to get insight into their experience at WA.

How are you applying your academics to this internship?

Colleen : My knowledge of different computer programs (Adobe Creative Suite) has helped me work on sustainability graphics. In a studio presentation we typically show graphics diagrammatically which is similar to how the sustainability graphics are being represented at WA.

Zihan : I am mostly doing graphic design work. It’s been a chance to apply and improve my 2D presentation skills.

Di : I’m applying academic thinking to how I express my designs.

Amy : In every way! Architecture requires such an eclectic skill set. I find myself constantly pulling stuff I learned in school that I never thought would be so relevant right away.

What’s your favorite aspect of working at WA?

Colleen : I love feeling comfortable going up to any of the employees with a question, knowing that I’ll get helpful and constructive feedback. The bagels on Friday mornings are also pretty high up there on the list…

Zihan : The spirit of cooperation is the part I like most about this team.

Su : I’d say the work environment. Colleagues are so kind, they help me solve any problems and answer all my questions.

Di : The nice atmosphere is my favorite aspect.

Amy : I love the buzz between coworkers, with everyone constantly collaborating and excited to learn about each and every project.

Based on your experience, what are your thoughts on your future career objectives?

Colleen : In the near future I hope to work in a mid-to-large sized firm that is involved in a variety of projects so I can gain experience in different areas of the design process. Being able to work in an office that has open communication is important to me as well. I hope that the work experience I get in the field of architecture will help me form a more concrete idea about the specific kind of architecture I’m most interested in pursuing.

Zihan : I have some work experience in interior architectural design, so I will likely keep going in that direction. I also want to be as comprehensive as I can as an architectural designer.

Su : If possible, I’d like to be an owner of an architecture studio, or  be an architecture teacher somewhere.

Di : I’d like to build with the responsibility of an architect for people who are really in need.

Amy : While I am still not sure what kind of architecture I want to specialize in for a career, I have confirmed that I am where I should be and can be happy doing any kind of architectural design. Talking to the other employees, I have learned that in school they didn’t necessarily see themselves doing campus design, but everyone found their niche here and seems really happy with where they ended up.

On a scale from 1 (bad) – 10 (Starbucks!) how would you rate the coffee in the office? Be honest!

Colleen : I don’t drink coffee but the tea selection is a 10!

Zihan : Absolutely 10! It is good enough for me.

Su : 5

Di : 10

Amy : If Starbucks coffee is a 10, I would have to give our Dunkin Donuts coffee a 12.

If you could design any kind of building, where and what kind of facility would it be? 

Colleen : I’m interested in designing some kind of series of structures that could serve the homeless community. Finding a way to integrate them back into society through architecture seems like a good first step to providing them with the resources that the rest of society benefits from. Since there are so many homeless people living in cities today, instead of looking at it as a problem, I think that a new kind of architectural infrastructure could be introduced to take advantage of vacant urban areas to aid this population.

Zihan : When I traveled to Tibet and Nepal, I was impressed by the Buddhist pilgrims. If I had the opportunity, I would like to build a hostel for Buddhists on their pilgrimage trip. It would be an interesting design project which would combine spatial, functional and spiritual elements, with simple language.

Su : Public Housing and Museums

Di : I’d like to design schools for underprivileged children in Africa .

Amy: I was first interested in residential work and designing for how people live in a space. But I have taken away a lot from my classes in urban studies/planning. So, I would love to combine these ideas with larger scale projects that I have enjoyed working on at WA to design a residential community. Ideally, this might be geared towards young people looking to establish connections/relationships in a new city.

What’s the best food stop near the WA office?

Amy & Colleen : Flour Bakery

Zihan, Su & Di : Yada Yada!

What’s your favorite thing about our office culture?

Colleen : The open space and inter-office communication is great. Getting together to play softball every week is another really good way to get to know colleagues on a more personal level while having fun outside.

Zihan : The professional and responsible attitude of my colleagues is the greatest part of working in this office.

Su : The studio atmosphere

Di : Playing softball!

Amy : I love when everyone comes together for something, whether it’s an all office meeting or a world cup game. It’s nice to see and get to know the people you don’t work with everyday. The softball games are another fun aspect of the office culture I have really enjoyed.

In one word, sum up your internship at WA.

Colleen : Fantastic

Zihan : It has been great experience for me. Not only was it a good chance to see the reality of design work but it was also an opportunity to improve my professional skills by working with many talented and experienced colleagues.

Su & Di : Awesome

Amy : Rewarding

This summer we had a terrific group of people helping us out and I hope we’ve given them a great experience. For me, the fresh outlook that these architecture students bring to our office, our work, and our community, is a gift. They talk about the city and their experiences, and remind us of all the things we take for granted. Their questions about our process and the business of delivering a project remind us that every step is a learning opportunity.

It’s been a wonderful summer and we wish Amy, Di, Colleen, Zihan and Su the best. We expect great things for each of them!

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