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Intern Insights: from superpowers and site visits to COVID and career clarity, our interns reflect on a summer unlike any other

With each summer comes a new cohort of enthusiastic interns eager to learn about architecture. This year was no exception. But this year’s interns are indeed exceptional and will be remembered for their determination and resilience.

The spring semester was well underway, and the college recruiting season was winding down as the COVID pandemic began wreaking havoc on campuses across the U.S. Spring break was canceled. Students moved off campus and classes moved online. Job offers were suspended or rescinded. Plans changed. And then changed again. Offices, bars, restaurants, and all but essential stores closed, causing many students to lose much-needed income. Uncertainty was the only sure bet. For many students, scoring a summer internship seemed inconceivable.

“If there is any way to get these students in here this summer, we’re going to make it happen,” Mitch Hoefer, CEO, explained. “Internships are vital to the future of our profession. We will find a way.” After several Zoom interviews and a well-timed authorization for employees to safely return to our offices, our determined and tenacious interns reported for duty in mid-June.

As this unforgettable summer nears its end, our Interns – 11 students from six universities across four states working on dozens of projects from offices in Dallas and Kansas City – reflected on their journey.

Most Memorable Moments

“Michael took time out of his busy schedule to go to lunch with me and provide advice and guidance. Also, Mitch personally recognized me for going beyond what my role requires.”

Darius Mathis

University of Kansas

“Preparing to move the Dallas studio into new offices – so many details and logistics to consider.”
-Isaiah Sigala, the University of Texas at Arlington

“The interaction with people. Even though COVID postponed a lot of events and activities, the culture in this office is amazing. I also really appreciate how much they care about my well-being.”
-Juan Pazmino, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

“The site visit to Collin College Technical Campus in Allen, Texas – it’s an absolutely beautiful project!”
-Kathryn Moore, the University of Texas at Arlington

“Waking up at 3:30 a.m. to go see a massive concrete pour for the new University of Kansas Health System Proton Therapy Center in Kansas City, Kansas.”
Grant Bechtel, University of Kansas

“The AEC tour of 46 Penn Centre. In school, you design a building on a computer and that's the most it will ever be. Seeing a project under construction and all the work that went into it is part of the reason I pursued architecture in the first place.”
Nathan Dysko, University of Arizona

“When we were touring the 46 Penn Centre project site, there was a moment where I turned the corner on the top floor and had a great view of the Kansas City skyline.”
-Mikaela Wynne, Kansas State University

Comfort Zone Challenges

“Asking questions. This internship has made me feel more comfortable with asking questions and seeing it as an opportunity to learn rather than viewing it as an annoyance to someone's time.”

Nathan Dysko

University of Arizona

“It has been a fun, new challenge to work in an office environment during the COVID era. I’m looking forward to seeing how the collaborative process continues to evolve.”
– Griffin Katzenmeier, University of Kansas

“Having to work with new software that I don’t typically use as part of the design process.”
– Maria Pozo, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

“For me, this entire experience has pushed me out of my comfort zone. This was my first internship, so I was a little nervous coming into it since I didn’t know what to expect. This experience has exceeded anything I could have ever thought it was going to be. I’ve learned more about architecture as a profession and met so many kind and helpful people.”
– Eric Perchiazzi, University of Kansas

“I was surprised one weekend to learn that I would be working from home due to the pandemic. I left on Friday thinking I’d be back in the office on Monday. I had to think fast to be able to work efficiently and effectively from home.”
– Kyle Gage, Texas A&M University

“Using Sketchup for modeling (I use other software) and doing Revit families. Both were really interesting challenges because I was unfamiliar with those specific tasks, but I was able to accomplish them with help from my peers.”
– Juan Pazmino, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Career Clarity

“This experience has reassured my passion for architecture and my idea of working in a design-focused firm after graduation.”

Maria Pozo

University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

“Going forward, I now have a better understanding of the complexities within architecture that you don’t often think of while in school. I have clarification about the facets of architecture I want to pursue once I graduate next May.”
– Nathan Dysko, University of Arizona

“I learned a lot about design and construction methods in the U.S. I know construction methods vary across countries. As an international student, this is important for me to understand because I plan to remain in the U.S. to work after graduation.”
– Juan Pazmino, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

“I got to witness how the firm navigated the challenges and changes presented by COVID-19. They were flexible with work assignments, proactive in implementing preventative measures, and thoughtful in communicating with clients and potential clients. It has informed me of practice management and helped me envision how the profession of architecture might change due to the virus.”
– Kyle Gage, Texas A&M University

“I have a much more comprehensive understanding of how a project truly comes together. By doing tasks for various projects, each at a different stage of production, I really got to see how all the pieces come together. My internship also allowed me to work on project types I have not experienced before.”
– Kathryn Moore, the University of Texas at Arlington

“My internship has been really enlightening for my career. My experience this summer has not only exposed me to the intricacies of the architectural profession but helped me confirm that I want to pursue a career in healthcare architecture.”
– Eric Perchiazzi, University of Kansas

Gratitude

“This has been an amazing experience for me. I really appreciate that Hoefer Wysocki put so much effort into making it possible for us to be in the office this summer. I am so thankful for all the site visits and different projects I have been able to interact with.”

Kathryn Moore

University of Texas at Arlington

“This summer has provided a pivotal experience of how the architectural industry could operate, post- COVID-19.”
– Darius Mathis, University of Kansas

“I am really grateful for this opportunity to work especially given the hard times the country is facing. Being able to have a job that I love has been a blessing to me. I didn't know what to expect about the city but so far I really like it and I tried to enjoy it as much as I could.”
– Juan Pazmino, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

“This has been an incredible experience! Thank you, Hoefer Wysocki!”
– Maria Pozo, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

A Fond Farewell to Our Interns

In what seems like the blink of an eye, this extraordinary, uncertain, challenging, and fascinating summer is nearly over, which means our interns will soon depart our offices to resume their academic pursuits. Interns, we’re honored that you chose to spend your summer with us and hope our time together fueled your passion for architecture. Your enthusiasm, curiosity, and determination renew our passion – and for that, we thank you! Please stay safe and keep in touch!

– Your Hoefer Wysocki colleagues

Multidisciplinary Partnership Provides Interns a 360-Degree Perspective of AEC Industry

“An internship is an exciting and stressful experience in the best of times. An internship during a pandemic? I can’t even imagine it,” said Hoefer Wysocki Associate Katherine Waldrop, AIA, who serves as an intern mentor and co-chair of Hoefer Wysocki’s inaugural involvement in the 2020 AEC Intern Partnership Program, coordinated by BHC Rhodes.

A multidisciplinary collaboration with leading Kansas City AEC firms, the program convenes interns from participating firms on a journey through the entire project lifecycle. Highlights from this summer included a meeting with the City of Lenexa to understand a project’s inception through the lens of a city planner and a commissioner and an expedited design charrette to learn about the design process and the art of architecture with Hoefer Wysocki. Other activities included Q&A discussions with CEOs from some of the industry’s leading firms, site visits to a wide range of projects in the Kansas City metro, and a session focused on roles and responsibilities of all project participants. Turner Construction led the capstone event, which featured an in-depth exploration of the new Lawrence Police Headquarters construction site.

The innovative program broadens students’ exposure to various AEC industry disciplines. “In school, you design a building on a computer, and that's the most it will ever be,” explained Nathan Dysko, University of Arizona student. “Our visit to 46 Penn Centre allowed us to see a building come to life. Seeing all the work that went into it is part of the reason I pursued architecture in the first place.”

“This experience enabled me to learn about the dynamics of communicating with clients and team members,” observed Maria Pozo, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign student. “We tend to focus on the technical aspects of architecture. The ability to communicate ideas with clients and team members is equally as important.”

Despite logistical and safety challenges resulting from COVID, the program was a success. “Honestly, I’m envious of these interns – my internship was architecture-focused. It’s rewarding to see how this collaborative program broadens their experience and ultimately benefits their careers,” Katherine said.

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