Architectural Mentoring during a Pandemic

Each semester I usually have at least one student job shadow in the office from an area school. On occasion I have a college student job shadowing and even interning (paid) with us. For many of these students this is their first exposure to an architectural office. It is a chance to explore the profession and see how we do it (every office is different). The high school students that job shadow with us use it as a time to figure out their path in college. We have had some that were energized by the experience and some that used the time to confirm they wanted to go a different direction in college. This experience is exactly for that kind of soul searching. For a college student it is a time to find their passion and test some of their skills.

I first met Keeanna Moore at the MTC Annual Breakfast where she was being presented an award for being an awesome Interior Design student back in 2016. Since then we have met a few times to talk about career path, college options, and life. She is currently attending Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. One of the requirements of graduation from this Interior Design program is to intern in an office to get some “real world” experience. Unfortunately for Keeanna’s timing, this needed experience hit right when the Pandemic hit the US and architectural / interior design offices across the country shut down in-office operations, including ours. So when Keeanna reached out to us for an internship we had to get creative. She and I worked out a virtual meeting schedule, project, and some baseline goals for our time together. I want the students spending time with our office to design an experience that is beneficial to them. I ask each to think about their goals and how our time together can be most beneficial. Here is her recap of her time with our office.

During my two months in quarantine, I had the privilege of completing an internship with The Gaines Group Architects Firm of Harrisonburg, VA. After staying in contact with Charles Hendricks throughout my college career, I reached out to him for some help with completing my interior design degree. While the whole world shut down during a pandemic, some college students still had to find a way to complete needed internship credits to be able to graduate on time. Charles agreed to help in any way he could without hesitation. During my 8 weeks I was able to collaborate on a modern house renovation. He gave me floor plans and I went to work redesigning for my clients. Charles and I met weekly through Zoom for feedback and critiques. He constantly provided his knowledge when it came to the specific project we were working on, he always asked how he could help me, and he challenged me on my designs as any good designer or architect would. I learned so much more than I had hoped for. At the end I had beautiful renderings that I can add to my portfolio. While completing an internship during COVID-19 definitely came with its challenges, I am so thankful for this local business that was willing to help. After graduating in December I hope to land a job at a residential firm where I can design similar projects to the one I worked on with The Gaines Group. I am so incredibly thankful for Charles and his interior designer, Maggie Bebel, for taking time out of their busy lives to help me on my project and for helping me complete a requirement for my degree. I truly could not have done it without them.

Taking time to mentor the next generation is a passion for me. I love seeing students find passion for design and realize how their work impacts others. This was time well spent for everyone involved.

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