Xuan Wang – student intern and winner of the 2017 Recognizing Exceptional Design (R.E.D.) Student Portfolio Competition – reflects on her meaningful and memorable summer in Seattle.
My Last Day
I was more deliberate than usual as I made the morning stroll between my bus stop and MG2’s Seattle headquarters. It was my final day as an MG2 intern, and I wanted to fully soak up the city before entering through the doors one final time.
The past three months have been a blur. I joined the firm in June as a summer intern after winning the MG2 R.E.D. Student Portfolio Design Competition. I can remember the feeling of excitement when I received the phone call announcing I’d won the competition and was being offered the internship. Now, my last day as an MG2 intern had arrived.
I approached my final day like any other. I divided my morning between designing a Target store remodel and preparing materials for an afternoon meeting about MG2’s Seattle Design Festival entry, an interactive installation exploring how communities, developers and designers can partner to create thriving urban environments. What made this day different from the rest was my coworkers stopping by to wish me farewell. It was nice to feel so appreciated.
The last few hours of the day were made even shorter because Justin Hill, the principal who had made the call to invite me to be an intern, had a birthday party thrown for him by the Retail studio. I spent an hour munching on baked goods with my team members who I’d come to call my “retail family.”
I scanned the faces of those around me as I enjoyed the celebration. Standing next to me was Elle Reinhard. She was a designer on MG2’s Target account and had become my unofficial mentor, patiently answering my Revit and construction document questions. My favorite afternoons were the ones when she would sneak her dog into work. I’d always be sure to play with him.
In addition to my working relationship with Elle, I’d formed connections with several other teammates including Scott Owen, MG2’s account lead for Target. Scott is a happy man who always made me laugh. He is extremely knowledgeable, and whenever he had a break from the hours of client phone calls he had each day, he’d be sure to check how I was doing.
Other coworkers I’d formed relationships with stood around me eating birthday treats. Cece Roque and Trish Kahler, two young professionals recently out of graduate school, Travis Yates, the firm’s “Revit Yoda,” and Evan Collins, who I’d bonded with over our love of Harry Potter, all spent time chatting with me that afternoon.
My MG2 Experience
The weeks I’d spent working on the Target account allowed me to develop my professional design knowledge and proficiency with the latest design software. I also learned a lot about the construction process and documents required to deliver a building. In school, I’d primarily been focused on theoretical / conceptual design. While at times, working on construction documents could get tedious, the real-world knowledge I acquired will prove invaluable as I progress in my career.
The company culture at MG2 was by far the best part of my internship. The workplace was more energetic and friendly than I’d anticipated. There are also many opportunities for employees to interact and learn from one another, which made coming to work especially meaningful and memorable.
I frequently participated in Design Lab Happy Hours to learn about new materials and furniture from vendors, and I attended weekly design presentations hosted by MG2’s Retail, Commercial and Costco studios. Attending internal presentations was helpful because I was able to learn about projects outside of my studio and watch junior staff, a year or two older than me, practice their presentation skills. Additionally, I competed in an internal furniture design competition, and to my delight (and honor) won third place.
The most memorable moments were at the firm’s Friday morning meetings. Every other Friday, our office would come together to welcome new employees, celebrate employee anniversaries, promote upcoming events and discuss different architectural topics. Best of all, breakfast was always provided.
I also appreciated the efforts MG2 made to help young designers. I received multiple communications about AXP opportunities and tracking my hours throughout the summer. The firm also hosted the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Seattle Summer Intern Happy Hour & Portfolio Review, giving my fellow MG2 interns and I the chance to meet and view the portfolios of interns working at other architecture firms in Seattle.
A Summer of Fun
What is next for me? I’m headed to continue my studies at the Rhode Island School of Design’s (RISD) Master of Architecture program. I frequently find myself daydreaming about Seattle’s beautiful scenery, especially the view of the cityscape and Puget Sound I enjoyed each day as I walked from the bus stop to MG2.
I’m enjoying the chance to relax while I can because once school kicks into high gear, I’ll no longer have time to indulge in daydreams. I’m grateful for what I learned during my internship and will have plenty of opportunities to apply the new skills I gained at RISD and beyond.