From pre-collegiate to undergraduate students, the internship program at the Los Angeles office brought together young designers to learn and work from a variety of teams. The interns brought their A-game to support a number of different projects and tasks. We sat down with them to chat key takeaways from their intern experience:
Avery McDougal is in the thick of his two-year professional internship while he completes his five-year undergraduate program at Woodbury University. Avery has let his technical skills shine on multiple project types from creative office to mixed-use.
Sports enthusiast Alyssa Jenkins is headed into her senior year at Howard University. Alyssa scored a spot working on an interiors and environmental graphics focused project for a professional sports team.
Jordan Paige is a recent high-school graduate who has joined ZGF for a preceptorship before embarking on his undergraduate studies this fall at El Camino College.
Krysta Foster joined us this summer before beginning her undergraduate studies at Howard University this fall. As the of the summertime resource library intern, Krysta learned the ins and outs of product specifying, while gaining experience selecting fabrics and finishes for interior projects.
RayShawnda McCoy joined us from her home state of Virginia where she is heading into her fifth year at Hampton University. When RayShawnda wasn’t busy working on design documentation for a new women’s and children’s hospital, she spent time exploring the vegetarian food scene in LA.
(Left to right: Krysta Foster, RayShawnda McCoy, Jordan Paige, Alyssa Jenkins, and Avery McDougal)
Describe something new that you learned during your ZGF internship.
Avery: I’ve gotten to experience a higher level of finding the right concept for a project. I’ve learned how to search for appropriate precedents and how to translate that research into an original, impactful idea.
Alyssa: I now have a deeper understanding of all the little details that must come together to create the perfect mix of aesthetics and function.
Jordan: As an intern right out of high school, ZGF has been the place that I have found my professional identity. I’ve learned how to still be myself, but in a more mature way.
Krysta: You don’t realize all the details involved when you’re simply inside a building. By working with the specifications, I learned how it all strategically comes together.
What type of assignments did you enjoy working on?
Avery: Construction documents. I’ve done them before, but at ZGF I have gotten more involved and immersed in the technical side of design.
Alyssa: Environmental graphic design. I’m intrigued by how strategically integrated graphics fit within the comprehensive design process.
Jordan: I enjoyed learning the nuances between colors, shades, tones, and tints. Now I not only understand the difference, but I understand the importance of the difference and the evolution of how a design goes from good to great.
Krysta: I enjoyed organizing the fabric bins in the library. It gave me a sense of ownership. I became familiar with each type of specification and it was empowering to be a resource to the rest of the office.
RayShawnda: I worked on a hospital and gained a better understanding of how each phase works in a large-scale project. I got to see how the things I am learning in school are applied to and executed in professional design work.
How did working in the Los Angeles office inspire your work or studies over the last few months?
Avery: Even though I was born and raised here, I now have a real appreciation for the city after working in downtown Los Angeles.
Alyssa: I found the urban design in Los Angeles to be so interesting. It was fascinating to observe how people in the city use, move through, and experience their spaces.
Jordan: This experience working downtown prompted me to work more with the homeless population. I love that our mission is making lives better through design.
Krysta: The architecture downtown. It’s so inspiring to see how such beautiful buildings can be built in a dense, compact setting.
RayShawnda: ZGF’s sustainability ethos has influenced the direction of my senior thesis. It got me thinking about high-performance buildings that embrace culture and nature to give back to the community
Did you visit any museums, historic landmarks, or parks?
Alyssa: I visited the Bradbury Building, the Broad, and, since I’m in LA, I had to hike to the Hollywood sign!
Jordan: The Westin Bonaventure. There are so many layers and intricate details that make the building intriguing architecturally.
Krysta: The Broad and MOCA. I really enjoyed walking around downtown and seeing the sights.
RayShawnda: I was struck by the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The modern interpretation of the historical building type showed me how places for community and moments of solace can be designed in nontraditional fashions.
Do you have any interests or hobbies you were also able to explore in Los Angeles?
Alyssa: I love to hear other people’s stories: who they are, where they came from, and what they enjoy. It’s the little connections that lead to important learning experiences and relationships.
Jordan: The internship at ZGF has allowed me to channel my artistic side. I’ve found myself writing poetry, comedy, and standup.
RayShawnda: I became a vegetarian just before moving to California. Exploring all the options for the veggie lifestyle while here made for an easy and delicious transition.
What was your favorite day as an intern this summer?
Alyssa: The day the star player from our client (an NBA team) unexpectedly showed up at the design meeting along with the team’s owner. I excited to meet him as a fan, but as a designer, I really enjoyed hearing feedback from the end user.
Jordan: My second day on the job I went to lunch with a managing partner. It was encouraging to connect and learn more about the firm.
Krysta: The last few days of my internship I had the opportunity to work with senior-level interior designers.
RayShawnda: The day of the Project Performance Team presentation on sustainable materials. It was a key moment in cultivating my interest and knowledge in sustainable design.
How do you see this experience influencing your work when you return to school?
Avery: The way I look at and approach a project. I’ve become even more rigorous with my work and I’ve learned to become more efficient by using shortcuts.
Alyssa: Understanding the little details and how they all come together to complete a project.
Krysta: I will be even more focused and driven. I now have a deeper understanding of what it takes to be a successful designer and I know exactly what I want to work towards.
RayShawnda: My newfound passion for sustainability will influence my senior thesis and the direction of my career beyond college.