BRIC Internship Series

2022 Summer Intern Program in Review

| Molly Esteve

A new school year is underway for K-12 and college students alike, and everyone here at BRIC are getting back to the swing of things after bidding farewell to our incredible summer interns. This year’s program, led by dedicated intern mentors Alesha Hase and Molly Esteve, built upon the successes of last year and yielded constructive lessons learned to inform our ever-evolving intern program. Recognizing the critical role that internships play in cultivating a more diverse and inclusive design industry, we are committed to making each year’s experience as beneficial as possible for early-career designers.

2022 Summer Intern Program in Review

Successful Project Integrations

We were excited to provide early-career experience and mentorship to this year’s two interns Raphael and Elena, shedding light on the profession of architecture through hands-on, project-based work.

Building on last year’s theme of creating a tailored experience for each intern, we worked closely with Elena and Raphael to understand their individual strengths and interests and match them with opportunities unique to their goals. Throughout the summer, Raphael and Elena were fully integrated into our Lake Oswego Middle School project team and tasked with exploring the design of a central feature of the school—a learning stair in the heart of the commons. They contributed new insights, conducted critical research, curated student feedback, and put together compelling graphics. A significant real-world impact! We also found ways for Elena and Raphael’s work to build upon itself as the summer progressed, providing smaller projects to further their understanding of design thinking and design problem solving.

We will continue to evolve our approach to cultivating a unique internship program, intentionally pairing interns with mentors and projects that reflect their interests and provide growth opportunities. Our ongoing vision is to identify multiple experiences and learning opportunities, both thoughtfully and flexibly in and out of the office, to create a cohesive program that connects our work to their schooling and futures.

Inspiring New Ideas

A particularly interesting idea brought forward and championed by Elena was renewed excitement for how our physical office can reflect our core values and support staff in flexible and effective hybrid workflows.

Above: Graphic snippets of the research and visioning work Elena led with our staff around equitable workplace design.

We were so impressed by the delicate and nuanced approach Elena took; she elevated the conversation beyond what we had initially envisioned, engaging our staff members in many ways, including surveys, one-on-one conversations, and participatory design workshops on Miro. We ended up with a vision and forward-looking tools that feel reflective of many unique perspectives.

Overall, Raphael and Elena were sensitive, curious, and empathetic designers who brought fresh ideas to the table. Their influence and feedback helped our teams be nimble and responsive to different methods of working and collaborating. We’re so proud to have worked alongside them this summer!

Tackling Challenges

One area we will continue to work on is finding ways to more efficiently pair up tasks and other opportunities that align with the interns’ interests from the start. As we take time to get to know out interns early in the program, having a ready-made list of potential opportunities will allow us to quickly transition interesting and engaging work to the interns, creating early excitement as we continue to seek out additional options that align with their unique interests. Our commitment to honing our program vision will ultimately help smooth out the early days of future internship cycles to ensure our interns – and our team – are on the same page about the potential the program holds.

Additionally, we can all relate to the ongoing process and learning curve of navigating hybrid workflows. Finding ways to cultivate trust and connection and foster inclusive work environments continues to be challenging, and in a short, 10-week internship program, that challenge is magnified. One of the ways we are looking at addressing this is exploring internships that last throughout the academic year.

BRIC office in Portland, OR

Listening is one of the most important elements of our process – we can’t wait to hear from you!