Interning at Page (or, How I Spend My Summer Vacations)

Architecture is a profession of healthy obsession. Constantly working toward achieving the best experience for a building’s users over a career of learning, creating, and discovering. Eventually, the learning curve may level out to almost a bunny slope rather than a double black diamond, but such a dynamic discipline constantly demands one to learn new technologies, solutions, and designs every day. As a fresh-faced nineteen year old last summer, my learning curve was equitable to climbing Mount Everest. A lifetime of knowledge to learn and with only my first year of college at the University of California, Berkeley under my belt meant that first day jitters at Page in Dallas were a bit higher than normal. However these jitters were eventually subdued because of how the next three months at Page evolved.

After about four days of doing my best to understand Revit (especially all of the architectural jargon) and actually try to prepare myself to work on a project, I mustered up the courage to let the office know that I was ready (as I’d ever be). Fate would have it that a former Page intern, Lisa Bradley, let me know I would be on the Forest Park Medical Center project in Austin. For all of last summer, I had the chance to work on all facets of the design process with the Forest Park team. Trust me when I say that I asked about fifty questions a day (mostly directed to Lisa) and that every single one was answered with patience and a sincere desire to help me learn and grow. By the end of the summer however, I had garnered a reputation of being quite the inquisitive intern and my route to Lisa’s desk was one I could do with my eyes closed.

Each day and each question answered made my double black diamond learning curve not so intimidating. All of last summer I kept thinking how wonderful it was at nineteen years old to work on a project like Forest Park with bright and talented architects who made me feel I was an important part of the team. Sure, some tasks an intern may pick up are not always the most interesting, but they help with the team and the project, and that is what really matters. Every night at the dinner table with Mom and Dad, (best part of being an intern is you get to go to work and still go home to mommy and daddy) I might have had stories that were specifically about what I worked on but I always had stories about who I worked with and what I learned from them. Page started to become my family away from home

Fast forward through my sophomore year (basically it was just a lot of studio time and cups of coffee), and I am so lucky to be back at the Dallas office this summer. It has already been a whirlwind of work and fun in just the first month and I would not have it any other way. On June 20, I had the opportunity to travel down to Austin with the Forest Park team to celebrate the hospital’s Topping Out event. The day still seems like such a dream that the thesaurus does not provide enough superlatives to describe it. The experience of walking into the structure and thinking “I had a hand in this” (a small hand, but still a hand) is an overwhelming reminder of why architecture is worth every minute of the work it requires. Plus, I also had a lot of cool Instagram pictures that day (I’m 20, remember?).

Experiences like visiting Forest Park or receiving a friendly smile as I walk through the office for my second cup of coffee are just two examples of what makes Page such a family. The support and patience I have received, and the lessons I have learned while at Page make Monday mornings something I actually look forward to. This summer has given me the chance to work on the University of Texas Dell Medical School. The opportunity to work on this project has provided a beautiful crossover of my work family and personal family as my older sister just graduated from the University of Texas this May. It was a very special moment to get to call her at her new job in Charlotte and tell her I was working on a building at her alma mater.

Every day at Page is an opportunity to learn and to grow with the support of a huge family. When friends ask how my summer internship is, I usually just smile and say how extraordinary it really is. I think of how all my questions are still answered with a smile, how amazing it is to have the ability to work on the renowned projects Page creates, and how wonderful it is to be surrounded by people who are so committed to continuing the firm’s excellence. When I think of Page, I think how lucky I am to work here. When I think of Page, I think of family.

Contributed By

Aja Zarrehparvar