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Insight > Perspective | 16 August 2021

The Summer Internship Experience

Samarth Vachhrajani is a 5th year Architecture student returning to Iowa State University College of Design this fall. He shares his experience as a summer intern at Pickard Chilton.

Working as an intern at Pickard Chilton has been a very exciting experience full of learning and new challenges. I was exposed to the studio’s collaborative work culture and was part of a thriving team that helped me complete my designated tasks by providing ample resources and guidance. I worked on both schematic design and design development phases of the project, helping put together documentation and client presentation packages. I participated in design reviews with the entire team, including Principal Jon Pickard, and received valuable perspective on how decisions about the project were made, as well as the method to approach the client’s comments and goals.

Pickard Chilton is a mid-sized architectural design firm of about 50 people working together. The studio’s small size in many ways is its secret to success. With a recognized understanding of the unique strengths of each studio member, project teams frequently invite individuals to join a project to accomplish specific tasks. Despite its size, the firm is a strong competitor for large-scale international projects due to their collaborative and fluid work style. Although there are dedicated project teams for each project, others in the office also weigh in and provide different points of view to further strengthen the design concept. 

Pickard Chilton is dedicated to fostering and supporting EDI in their workplace and the studio conducts important sessions for everyone – to build a better workplace culture. The firm-wide discussion I was a part of was about implicit and internal biases and how to recognize and confront them. This discussion helped me gain insight into not only the studio’s commitment towards workplace culture that supports everyone but also into the values and ethos the people at Pickard Chilton hold themselves to. While the EDI committee is not limited to one small group at the firm, those leading these initiatives are very sensitive to assessing the firm’s ongoing work culture and are continuously working to go beyond in their commitments, providing resources, and responding to the ongoing conversations.

Pickard Chilton is not all work and invests time to bring together the firm as a community. During the summer, office parties and a day trip allowed me to socialize and network with more people outside my project team and to meet very talented individuals coming from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.

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