Architecture and Design Externship in 5 Days

UNM Students during their Architecture & Design Externship

Janet Park (left) and Lyric Fuentes (right) at the end of their 5-day externship at D/P/S.

Each year Dekker/Perich/Sabatini employs summer interns in its offices, and in addition to our more formal program we're also able to invite students for externships and job shadowing. We recently hosted a 5-day externship for Janet, a graduate student pursuing a Master of Architecture degree, and Lyric who will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and a Minor in Psychology. The externship—or very, very short internship—provides a glimpse of the architecture and design industry.

Janet and Lyric, both students at the University of New Mexico, spent the week visiting and training with different D/P/S teams and attended various meetings, luncheons, and site visits to better understand how our firm functions.

Students during their architecture and design externship.

Lyric: In school you design all the time, coming up with more solid concepts and communicating those concepts visually and architecturally, but you still don't know what working at a firm really looks like. You're not looking at how to do a bid, how to write-up a proposal, how to work on a construction document, so I didn't even know what those things were before coming to D/P/S. I didn't know what the day-to-day looked like. Honestly, when I first got the externship, I was expecting to be filing or organizing fabric swatches. So having people take the time to show us, this is what working at a firm looks like, these are the different kinds of things we do, gave me a much more practical understanding of the industry.

Janet: This firm is really supportive of self-guided learning. If you want to know what it's like to work on interiors, or if you want to know how to use a specific program, or you want experience in a certain process to broaden your education and knowledge, they really support those explorations, and it's accessible because there are so many people with diverse skills.

Students during their architecture and design externship.

Janet: We got sit down with some of the architects for site planning software training. And we ended up assisting in a site plan for a new client, and we came up with a lot of different solutions to present to the client.

Lyric: We were also able to meet with a client to discuss the interior design for their restaurant—how the lighting, wall coverings, and other details were working and what needed to be changed. We were part of the meeting with the client, architects, and interior designers, and they were asking us what we thought, so we really got a taste of how to work with clients.

Janet: I love that about this firm. Everyone is included, and everyone's opinion matters.

Lyric: Seeing how much of a family everybody is at D/P/S and seeing people enjoy their jobs and enjoying each other is really encouraging.  You have to get out there and take risks and ask questions, but because of the support here and the value placed on individuals, even the scary things are encouraging.

Students during their architecture and design externship.

Lyric: Having my view of the architectural practice change to being more positive during this externship has been huge. In school you hear rumors and speculation about the industry, but being here, I'm more confident that architecture is a good career choice for me. Seeing how each piece is part of the larger project, and seeing how each person is part of that process—it's not like anyone is sitting in a corner with a document—you get to be your own person and share your knowledge and develop your skills. Architecture is a field that requires so many different disciplines—it's not just design, it's not just business, it's also about how to have good relationships with clients, and it's a very all-encompassing field.

Janet: I always thought I had to know everything, and there was this pressure to be perfect. In coming here I realized you don’t have to be perfect at everything. You have to be willing to learn, and you have to be proactive in learning and asking for help. And that really provides you with the flexibility to learn about what interests you and allows you to figure out how you're going to contribute to creating spaces that bring value to clients and our communities.