Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Learning | an experience, a life, an adventure

By Stephen Tutka

Over the Spring Break at Southern I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in, what SIU refers to as, an externship. An externship is a program for students at SIU that is hosted by the Alumni Association that allows students to do a week long internship over Spring Break. This was such a great opportunity for me that I don’t know how exactly to describe it.
My break was spent at Mackey Mitchell Architects in St. Louis, Missouri. MMA is a firm that I have visited in the past through a personal visit to the firm and a firm crawl that the SIU chapter of American Institute of Architecture Students hosted. During the previous visits MMA had made a huge impression on me. The culture of their studio is friendly, optimistic, and collaborative. There is a sense of professionalism and formality without an overbearing feeling of constraint by either facet; it feels like a small firm with every capability of a large (corporate) one. It feels like a family. This office has the feeling of the type of firm I would want to work for. These are the type of people I would want to work for.
I think that is it, the type of people you would want to work for. Almost everyone I spoke to told me what Gene Mackey III told me, know what you want from your education and your career and if you don’t see it where you are then move. There are opportunities around you all the time. Every experience in life is an opportunity for growth. That is one thing I learned from the people at MMA. The people I got to know and make friends with in that very short week reminded me that architects are optimists. We seek opportunity and dream about what can be. Not what could be but what can be. The people at MMA were inspiring. That is what I mean by the type of people I want to work for and with, people who inspire me. Everyone in the firm had some type of helpful advice for me in my moving forward in my career. I learned more than one post can entail.
I read in the AIASTL 20 Fellows book (free from the AIASTL office) Gene Mackey’s entry. He quotes his dad at one point saying, “…you will never know the result of your effort if you don’t finish It and submit.” I feel that this is a good thing to take away. Always learn what you can produce. Learn from your success and from your failure. The first time I tried to work at MMA for an externship they turned me away but I tried again and had the opportunity to learn from a firm that had an impact on me. Find a firm and people that allow you to do what you want to do and inspire you. That is my advice to you, reader. And I leave you with the closing statement of Gene Mackey, “What is next? How can we respond? That is exciting to consider.”

Jacob Rose (SIU senior), Gene Mackey III (Mackey Mitchell Architects), and I at MMA in St. Louis for extern week.

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