Most students spend their spring break relaxing on a beach for a week. As enjoyable as that may seem, this year I decided it was important to begin establishing my future after graduation. How did I accomplish this you may ask… Well my fiancé and I decided to make the 16 hour drive from Carbondale, IL to Florissant, CO. I do not recommend this to everyone, it is a lot of driving, but as an architecture student I am used to going long periods of time without sleep. Also the drive out there was more enjoyable, mainly because it was our first time visiting Colorado, and as you approach the Colorado border you can see the mountains from the horizon.
Southern Illinois is home to numerous state parks with breathtaking views, but it is nothing compared to the views from atop a mountain. The views we experienced were found from the area in which we were staying, I could not imagine if we had climbed to the top of Pikes Peak (something I hope to accomplish on my next visit).
Unfortunately there was little time for us to explore due to interviews and a short term externship, which was my main reason to visit. So on to the business portion of the trip…
Monday I was fortunate to have the opportunity to extern with RB+B Architects, a small firm in Fort Collins. It was a wonderful experience and hopefully will provide me with many opportunities in the future. One thing I found very refreshing was their respect for all their employees, everyone made a difference in the firm and everyone’s opinion mattered. This is definitely something you need to consider when deciding on a firm. The size really does matter, it will allow you to work on a variety of projects as well as provide plenty of opportunity for advancement. Even the short amount of time I spent there, I was able to leave an impression. They were working on a completion and had some sketches that needed to be developed into a model. Thanks to my experience with SketchUp, I was able to quickly and accurately develop them a model, which left them extremely impressed.
As a reserved individual, it is difficult for me to fully express my personality when I first meet an individual, especially a future employer. I tend to keep to myself until I have a better grasp on their personality and expectations before I become comfortable. This makes interviewing extremely stressful for me and I do not always perform my best. Thankfully, due to their need of a model for the competition I was able to provide them with an example of my skills and work ethic. I feel this is a better representation of what I have to offer to a firm rather than a 30 minute interview of just verbal expression. There are many firms that require CAD tests to test your proficiency as well as other tests of skill.
After completing my externship with RB+B and an interview with some other firms in the Denver area, we spent a lot of time exploring the Front Range area until it was time to head to California. I know I previously stated there were no beaches involved which is true other than brief our flight over the beach in Los Angeles. So why was I in California? Well, I was there to present a paper at the 55th Annual Transportation Research Conference. Talk about nerve-racking… Luckily it was not a major conference, but it did allow me to gain experience. A majority of the presenters were more transportation and research based. It was refreshing for them as well as me to experience something different. It was definitely a valuable spring break experience overall and I hope to have the opportunity to return in the future.