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Sasaki Welcomes High School Interns

This summer, Sasaki had the honor of welcoming Rachel Lee and Shemar Stewart as part of the Sasaki Foundation’s High School Internship program! The Sasaki Foundation strives to increase social equity and access in design on a regional scale. In support of this goal, the Foundation has funded a six-week high school internship program that offers young students the opportunity to explore architecture and design at Sasaki over the summer.

“We hope to introduce students to design as a problem-solving tool, and empower young people who perhaps would not have considered the design industry as a viable career path,” said Meredith McCarthy [pictured below], architect and coordinator for the internship program. “Sometimes design can feel inaccessible. We are striving to show the next generation that design is for everyone.”

The two interns came to Sasaki in early July to explore their interests in design at a professional workplace. The program featured a mentorship and shadowing component, as well as a short design charrette. Lee and Stewart met with several practitioners—representing architecture, landscape architecture, campus and urban planning, and more—to reveal the importance of interdisciplinary connections between seemingly disparate fields. The short design charrette offered the interns the chance to dive headfirst into a real-world design project—learning more about the industry along the way.

“My main goal is to learn more about the architecture and design field, and also the careers that comprise the field,” said Lee, one of the interns. “I want to learn about the process of designing a structure or space, and how different professionals are involved in it. By shadowing professionals or just helping out in any way that I can, I really hope to gain valuable experience in a professional office.”

This year’s interns are recent graduates of the Boston Latin High School in the Fenway neighborhood. Their school’s campus served as the site for their design charrette, giving the interns the opportunity to reimagine a space that they were familiar with. At the conclusion of the program, Lee and Stewart presented on their experiences and their final charrette designs.

Read on for Lee and Stewart’s reflections on the internship program:

Rachel Lee

1. What did you enjoy? What worked well?

I enjoyed shadowing meetings, whether administrative, with clients, or gardening—it was all new and interesting. I also really enjoyed talking with principals, strategies, marketing, and especially getting to hear about and see what they do. Getting feedback and talking through ideas with mentors also worked really well, picking their brains (especially with the critical eye of Chanwoo). I also really appreciated how Gift introduced us to some of the people she worked with, and of course, the Wednesday sketchings with Rosa. Even though I am pretty unskilled in that, I had some great learning moments.

I learned how to use different software applications, how to apply knowledge of one into another. I also learned about the design process and the planning, analysis, general thought process that goes into it. I was also unaware of all the cooperation and interactions between different disciplines and roles, so it was very interesting to see that in action.

2. What could we have done better? How can we improve for next year’s interns?

In terms of the project, a greater push towards progress, critical thinking, and products at the beginning of the program would be nice. We spent a lot of great time brainstorming, but I think it could have even been beneficial to get some more critique or insight around the midway point. I also wished there had been more time to shadow work being done on actual projects, or if possible getting involved, even if in small ways. I also think that perhaps it would be beneficial to scale down the project, or just ask for one problem and focus on that. That way the interns can get through more in less time, and have more time to shadow, observe, and/or the chance to explore more things such as 3D printing, model building, or VR.

I did like the idea of going through the planning process of redesigning our school, and I learned a ton from it. However, I wish I could have been more productive with our time here, to help out more, as everybody is busy.

3. How has this summer internship experience influenced your thinking about your future studies?

I’m not yet sure exactly how much it has influenced my future studies, but it definitely has given me a lot to consider and think about for the next few years. I have considered design before, and this program was great for more exposure and experience. One thing that this internship did change my mind on was that office jobs do not have to be boring!

Shemar Stewart

1. What did you enjoy? What worked well?

To have worked at Sasaki has been a great and unexpected turning point for me. Meeting various staff members in the departments that make up Sasaki was probably some of my most memorable moments. Meeting my advisors: Rosa, Meredith, Gift, Briana, Emily, and Chanwoo were the main people on that list. What I enjoyed the most was learning how to use Sketchup, Photoshop, and Illustrator which I hope to continue using as I begin studying at UMass Amherst. Looking back on this experience, I wished I had a more initiative outside the office and expanded more on the tools that I am still learning. Besides the digital aspect of the internship, I learned that it takes a lot when designing something and the impact others can having on your own ideas to create something that I may have never even considered.

2. What could we have done better? How can we improve for next year’s interns?

In terms of the internship itself, something that can be improved on would be the structure and time frame. One question that came to me was: “how were our advisors assigned?” Meeting a different core member was enjoyable, but it did make things more difficult since we had such limited time with an individual who had their own deadlines and meetings that developing solid guidance seemed rushed and conflicted. Meredith was our main advisor in a way, and helped us in any way she could; Meeting with the same individual at least once a week for check-ups would have improved the project as a whole.

3. How has this summer internship experience influenced your thinking about your future studies?

Overall, this was a wonderful experience that I hope to continue, and considering the future, I feel my interest in architecture has grown from my time here. I’m taking an architecture class as one of my electives and my time here at Sasaki has given me a brief but great introduction to the course. I hope to keep in contact and would gladly come out to the office again.

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