Externships in Retrospect: Keke Huang
The Office of Professional Development and Career Services at Weitzman coordinates an annual externship program for students in architecture and landscape architecture; for the 2020-2021 Academic Year, externships were scheduled for January and March. Keke Huang is in her final year of the Master of Landscape Architecture program. She is completing her last year of school from China and despite the time difference has recently participated in an externship at the Philadelphia-based planning and urban design firm Interface Studio LLC.
What surprised you about your experience?
I was surprised by the flexible collaboration among office members. Interface Studio is small firm with 10 to 15 members and each team member handles 4 or 5 projects at a time. They organize how many people are working on each project depending on how close the deadline is and how heavy the workload is at that stage of the project.
How was working in an office virtually different from collaborating with your classmates in a studio virtually?
I think, technically speaking, there is no difference between the office and studio except for the meeting platform used at the office. However, working in an office requires robust time keeping—every outcome needs to be on time because the project is real.
Did the externship program have any impact on the types of offices you are interested in after graduation? If so, how?
Most designers at Interface Studio have worked there for a long time (more than 10 years) after graduating from school. I asked them why and they mentioned the work environment, office atmosphere, project types, and personal practice. Personally, I will focus more on finding a small office when I look for jobs.