Sadie Beebe developed skills design, collaboration, and project management at Whitman Architectural Design firm.
How did you get your internship?
This summer I worked as an interior design intern at Whitman Architectural Design, an architecture company in my California hometown. During the spring semester, I began researching home design companies in various cities around the area in which I wanted to spend my summer. Specifically, I was interested in working for small companies, so that narrowed my search down. Once I had identified and ordered the companies I wanted to work for by preference, I emailed the company emails listed on their websites, doing something called ‘cold outreach.’ I described my role as an applied humanities and design student, expressed my specific interest in their company, and explained my ability to support their company vision in each customized message. I followed up with those that I did not hear back from, but the internship I received came from a simple email correspondence and a follow-up interview at the beginning of the summer.
What kind of work did you do throughout your internship experience?
I worked in a small office and focused on drafting the interiors of homes on AutoCAD. I also corresponded with clients to guide them through selecting interior finishes. Every day, I would check in with my coworkers to see how I could help them with the projects they were doing before starting my own work. Because of that collaboration, I also worked on permitting forms for city approval on construction jobs, created material boards for new builds, took measurements of project sites, and ordered interior materials such as tile and fixtures.
What knowledge and skills did you learn and develop in your internship?
This internship gave me so much knowledge about professionalism on top of the design experience I acquired. The biggest transferable skill I learned was definitely attention to detail, especially when the work has high financial stakes for the company or clients. I was constantly double-checking work or reaching out for help when I wasn’t sure of what decision to make. I learned about how to dress for an office job and how to make sure I was having efficient and valuable time management while on the clock. Yet, the main skill I am now proficient in is AutoCAD, which is an industry-standard drafting program that many architecture and design groups use.
What was your favorite part of your internship?
The best part of my internship was the research that I was able to conduct adjacent to the design work I was doing. During breaks in my workday, I would read books and articles from the UA online library about interior design history, notable figures, and low environmental impact furniture or materials on the market. This was important to me because I began to assemble resources that I can refer to and even add to from this point forward on my interior design journey. One role of an interior designer is to be a source of knowledge for clients. I was able to find many companies that make fixtures and furniture by hand or repurpose waste, as well as companies that support artisans around the world. Doing this research makes me more able to guide clients through the design process in a thoughtful way.
Another really meaningful part of this experience occurred after the internship was complete. My boss wrote me a note on my last day and said that I brought a great energy to the office. This was so important to me after having worked in an office environment because I had learned that the coworker dynamic set the tone for the workday. I was grateful to have been considered a positive person in the office space and want to make sure to bring that intention to my next job.
What did you find challenging about your internship?
Besides the initial nerves and stress of becoming acclimated to new work, the most challenging aspect of this internship was holding myself accountable for my productivity. A few times this summer I felt like it was difficult to fulfill my expected hours for the week. I had to find ways to be productive and take the initiative to ask for new tasks to work on. As an intern, I learned that it was my responsibility to be present and available if anyone needed my support throughout the entire work day.
How did your Applied Humanities major coursework help prepare you for the internship experience?
The PAH 383 Pre-Internship: Building Career Readiness course that I took in the spring before this internship was essential to my success this summer. That course helped me organize my professional materials such as my resume and LinkedIn profile, as well as taught me how to write an introductory email and how to offer my skill set to a potential employer. None of these things had been outlined to me prior to this course. The professors instilled confidence, persistence, and professional etiquette in us during our class.