Every summer, HCM hosts a student internship program, offering emerging designers an opportunity to work on real projects within our studios while also learning about the operations of the firm. Activities range from mentoring sessions with leadership, to visiting active construction sites, to learning about professional development post-graduation. This year, internships followed a hybrid model, balancing work from home with in-office opportunities in both Baltimore and Denver.
Our 2021 interns were the first to experience our 2.0 internship program, a response to the challenges and changes brought on by the pandemic and a hybrid work environment. HCM’s Student Engagement Committee developed a strategic onboarding process that all the interns experienced together, creating a cohort that overcame geographic distance. This cohort participated in as many opportunities together as possible. Interns were also provided with in-depth training before being placed on projects, and were assigned a “buddy” from their studio to provide guidance and serve as a resource.
HCM has always believed that interns are the future of our firm, as well as of our industry, and that providing a hands-on learning environment for the next generation is an important way to give back to the community. We were proud to hire a diverse group of students who are involved in their communities and campuses, and are passionate about the same core values as HCM.
As the summer ended and interns returned to school, we interviewed several of our class of 2021 participants on their experiences over the past few months; read their thoughts below!
Meet HCM’s summer of 2021 interns!
Niles Parker is a graduate student in the M. Arch program at Penn State, where he will serve next year as the President of the local NOMAS chapter. In addition to architecture, his interests are fashion, pottery and art installations. He joined Baltimore’s Healthcare team for the summer.
Juliana Keagle returned this summer to Baltimore’s Education team, after previously interning with HCM during her undergrad at Franklin & Marshall. She has just completed her first year at Catholic University’s M.Arch program in Washington DC. She loves staying active through hiking, yoga, running. She also likes crafting, concerts and cooking!
Duong Le is a “graduate” of HCM’s Architect for a Day program! Originally from coastal Vung Tau City in Vietnam, he is currently a senior in the BS Architecture program at the University of Maryland. His interests are an eclectic mix of robotics competitions; community planning; watching stand-up comedy shows and British parliamentary debates ; and cooking on a limited budget with random ingredients from local stores. He worked with the Education team in our DC Metro office this summer.
DeJanae Wright is in her final year of the M. Arch program at Morgan State University. When she is not tackling her A-School projects, she enjoys catching up on movies and TV. She was a part of the Baltimore Senior Living studio for the summer!
Chase Diest is a final year student in University of Maryland’s BS Architecture program. In addition to being an architecture student, Chase’s chill hobby is taking care of his collection of around 25 house plants. His favorite is a Monstera Adansonii, (you know, the “swiss cheese” plant that has the big green leaves with natural ‘fenestration’ in them?) He worked with the Baltimore Housing + Mixed Use studio this summer!
What was the best/most impactful part of your internship?
“For me, it is collaboration and its power to channel creative, as well as critical, thinking into the projects. As a result, I learned to be an active listener in the process of problem-solving and community engagement.” – Duong Le
“This summer I have really enjoyed all of the opportunities to visit construction sites of projects from almost every studio at HCM. It has been very valuable to get exposure to the different phases of a project as well as different project types outside of education- the studio I have been working this summer.” – Juliana Keagle
“I really liked the program structure; I had a previous internship experience that was very much a thrown-in-the-deep end situation, which is more typical, but this program is more structured. We have weekly mentorship meetings and have also been able to learn how the business side of the industry works. Because this has been a hybrid experience, I’ve been able to meet people from every office. Everyone has been very open and friendly and wants to meet with you to talk about what they do.” – Niles Parker
What was the most surprising thing you learned?
“I was most surprised in learning how much detail and time goes into a project. I have been modeling sites down to the curb and street decals, which I wouldn’t have thought to include.” – Chase Deist
“In school, we are encouraged to optimize every available modeling/rendering software to enhance visualization, which escalates the working time. On the contrary, throughout the internship, I learned how to refine my selection of toolkits to deliver high-quality design, while maintaining efficiency.” -Duong Le
“Learning HCM’s way of Revit. Getting more into the collaboration side of Revit and seeing how organized the files are.” – DeJanae Wright
What inspired you to pursue a career in architecture?
“I first got interested in architecture when I was about 16 years old. I had previously wanted to be a lawyer, but I’m not really cut out for that. My grandmother always told me I should be an engineer, but that didn’t feel quite right either. My dad was the one who encouraged me to pursue architecture. In high school, I went on YouTube to research the field and took a summer course at the University of Maryland to learn Architecture 101. It’s been cool to take my other interests, like graphic design and photography, and incorporate that into design, figuring out how they get tied together by architecture. I recently received a grant to design an interior installation at school; I’m building an interactive space that combines each of these elements.” – Niles Parker
“A life-long pursuit of architecture allows me to spatially actualize the visions of clients. With the support of my father, who is an urban planner, I nurture my desire to craft structures reflecting individual and societal cultures.” -Duong Le
“My high school teacher inspired me to try it in college, and although my relationship with architecture was rocky at times, I always found my way back to loving it.”- DeJanae Wright
What are you most excited to experience, as you work toward your future career?
“I am most excited to pursue projects that truly have a direct impact in bettering communities. I have definitely sensed that through working in the education studio, and I am looking forward to experiencing different community-based architectural types and working directly with community members to create impactful designs.” – Juliana Keagle
“I’ve given myself a ten-year window after graduation to get licensed and work my way up to a leadership role in a firm. I’d like to decide at that point whether I want to start my own firm. If I was to open my own firm, it would incorporate everything – logo design, furniture design, product design. I would want to see my projects past design – if I designed a restaurant, I would want to be a part of the operations too. The title I’ve come up with for what I want to do is ‘architectural entrepreneur.’” – Niles Parker
“It has to be traveling and interacting with people from different walks of life. I love gathering every anecdote and turning the storybook into valuable lessons.” – Duong Le
What advice do you have for next year’s internship class?
“Be vocal, be involved, try to meet as many people as possible – not just in your studio or your office, you never know who’ll you’ll meet or connect with!” – Niles Parker
“My advice for next year’s internship class is to learn as much as you can. Architecture as a study versus as a profession are very different. Try to use your time here hardening your skills in drafting, modeling, rendering, while also learning how projects actually get done from concept to construction.” – Chase Deist
“Everyone at HCM is super approachable, so don’t be afraid to ask questions or just pick someone’s brain for their expertise. The summer really flies by so take advantage of every opportunity you can to diversify your experience- whether its learning about a committee you might be interested in, going on a site visit, or the chance to sit in on a client meeting.” – Juliana Keagle
Congratulations to our 2021 class of student interns – we cannot wait to see what you will achieve!
Interested in learning more about HCM’s internship program? Visit https://www.hcm2.com/internships/