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An Intern Story

Glenn Giddings
Glenn Giddings
Marketing Director

At PZS, we believe that hiring an intern is a real opportunity for mutual benefit, not only for the intern but for the company as well. A qualified intern who is serious and dedicated can be highly productive and provide support across many projects depending on where the need is at any given time. For the intern, they gain not just valuable technical skills in the process of Architecture, but perhaps more importantly, they get experience with the innerworkings of an office and how to be an employee.

For the past four months, we have had Zach Borine working with us as an intern as he prepares for his last year at Temple University’s School of Architecture. We talked about his experience here from the day he first walked through the door for an interview to his last few days with us. This was Zach’s second internship and it came at a pretty important time in his college career. Throughout most of his internship he was taking an Architecture Studio summer session course at Temple and preparing for his last year as an undergrad.

GG: Can you give me a quick summary of your experience here and what you thought of the work you got to do, the team, and the environment?

ZB: I would say overall, I definitely got more out of it than I was expecting. I had never been to staff meetings, project scheduling meetings, or site visits before. I didn’t get to do any of that stuff at my previous internship- it was more basic office work. Getting the opportunity to be involved with people who were working on real projects was a great privilege that has been a really valuable enhancement to my college career and the learning process I am going through in school. Really getting involved in the details of design and seeing how an Architecture office really works were great experiences. The “nitty-gritty details” are the things you don’t get to see unless you are involved in real projects at a real firm.

GG: How did the work and projects here compare to your previous internship or your previous architecture firm work experience?

ZB: The size of the office at my other internship was about the same, but I was not involved in nearly as much real work. From the very beginning, working with you guys, I was put onto projects with all different people in the firm and that gave me experience with a lot of different project types and a good variation of project responsibilities. I was also able to really develop my skills using Revit which has been fun and is something that is going to be a great asset for me in projects next year and in my career.

GG: What was the training and mentorship process and the eventual day-to-day workflow?

ZB: From the beginning, I was given training in the office operational systems and an overview of the projects in the pipeline. I shared office space with Ryan who was a big help in showing me the ropes as I got up to speed with the way things are done in this office and the expectations, but I didn’t spend all my time on his projects. The firm decided that I would not be working with just one single mentor, but I would be available to assist everyone in the office who needed help on some particular aspect of a project. As my familiarity with the workflow and the projects grew, I was put onto more complex tasks and I got to work on projects that were larger in scope and longer in duration.

GG: Do you have any deep, dark secrets about Ryan that you want to share with the world?

ZB: Haha- well there’s definitely an issue with birds that most people don’t know about.

GG: You always go into a new work environment with certain preconceptions and expectations. Can you talk about what you were expecting your time here to be like and how similar or different it was to what you were expecting?

ZB: I learned more than I thought I was going to. In some respects, I thought maybe I was going to be doing a lot of production work and taking care of redlines and revisions, but I learned so much while I was here!  

One of the things I thought coming into the internship was that the people were going to be more high-strung and that I wouldn’t be able to relate to them because I am a student and I’m young. It was pretty cool to see that meetings can start with conversations about your weekend, or someone’s new shoes, or Breaking Bad. Those are the things you don’t really expect.

GG: What was your favorite part about this internship?

ZB: Every couple of weeks you guys have a pin up to review what is on the boards, or to review some new initiative or opportunity that’s coming up. During one of the company staff meetings, one of the Partners asked who had an idea for the next pin up, and I volunteered to present the project I was working on for my summer Architecture Studio class. I was a little past the halfway point of my project at that point and I was at a point in my project where I had a good amount of material to present. We gathered together in the conference room on a Thursday afternoon and off I went. The feedback from the group was a big help, and everyone was really involved in the discussions. David even pulled out a pen and started sketching on one of my presentation drawings! My final project was much better as a result of the critique and it was a great experience for me to have gone through.

GG: What are the most valuable and important skills you learned? Either technical or from a professional development point of view?

ZB: Bettering my understanding of Revit and some of the other software programs was a big help from a technical standpoint.

Being a part of the collaborative environment that you guys have here was something I haven’t been a part of before. Everyone really made me feel like I was part of the team, not just an intern that was here to do the work nobody else wanted to do. I think being part of the team- going to the meetings, having to meet deadlines, etc. is really going to help me down the road as I start my professional career.

GG: And lastly- who is your favorite Partner at the firm?

ZB: Not. Even. Going. There!