School of Architecture College of Design

Recent Grad shares internship experience in Shanghai


Megan Fowler, a 2013 graduate of the BDA Program, shares her recent experience in landing an internship in Shanghai

Navigating the Chinese visa/residence permit/internship permit regulations is mind-bending and they seem to come out with new rules every few months, but finally after studying in Shanghai for about four months, I was able to start an internship with Goettsch Partners.  GP is an American firm with an office in Chicago (and one in Abu Dhabi) aside from the one in Shanghai.  I started there just a few hours a week at first while I finished up my classes for the semester at Tongji University and then this week I officially started full-time.  Since starting at GP, I’ve had the chance to work on a lot of different aspects of the project I’m unofficially assigned to; I’ve made foam massing models and done some Photoshop work, along with some SketchUp and AutoCAD.  Earlier this week I had the opportunity to go with some coworkers on a visit to a factory outside Shanghai that makes steel fire doors.  The company gave us a tour of their factory, showroom, and the organic farm they keep for their employees!  My supervisor and other coworkers have been great about making sure I’m involved in experiences like that, as well as finding work for me to do and explaining the project and processes with me instead of just handing it off.   The project I’ve been helping with is in the early stages of schematic design where GP is working really closely with the client to agree on an overall concept, so I’ve learned a lot about that process. (Including that post-rationalization doesn’t end after architecture school.)  I graduated with a Bachelor of Design in Architecture from the U of M in 2013 and I feel like the broad knowledge of design thinking and the design process that I gained there has been particularly useful in helping with a project at this stage of development. I’ll only be with Goettsch for a short time since I have to head home at the end of July in time to finish up my last year of grad school, but I can already tell that there is a lot to learn from working in an international setting that can only help me when I’m back in the States, or especially if I decide to go into international practice after graduation.  I haven’t decided yet what path I’ll take, but living and working in Shanghai has been eye-opening to a whole new possibility and all that goes with it!


GR Shanghai, Office Lobby


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