Most professional sports teams’ recruiting efforts are looking past athletes in college programs. They are now tracking their future stars at the high school level. So why aren’t you?
As a mentor in the national ACE Mentor Program’s Tampa Bay chapter, I’ve recruited multiple high school students as summer interns. Of course, I’m not alone in tapping into this pool of talent. Many firms are supporting ACE through direct scholarship donations, fund-raisers such as our annual Shoot-Out, direct company-staff involvement as mentors, and other in-kind donations. With the company names and logos prominently displayed at our fund-raisers, presentations, programs, and banquets, they are making long-lasting first impression on these students.
As scholarship chair for our chapter, I’m very impressed by these students. They are self-motivated, taking their free time to attend weeks of classes plus the many hours working on projects and final presentations. With our coaching and mentoring, their skills quickly develop in analyzing, designing, and planning the construction of their projects. They make it difficult to decide who gets the scholarships!
A short story on one of our top students who had just graduated high school: After Mira Abdalla accepted the firm’s offer as a summer intern, she assisted on the design of major expansion to an airport. The project involved adding marche-type concession in dining hall atriums to both sides of the security checkpoint. Since these spaces involved unusual geometries, and a marche was a new concept, it was difficult for the airport director to understand how travelers would move through them to their appropriate concourse and gates.
Utilizing our BIM model, Mira mocked up grey boxes for the marche’s concessions, and in just a couple days, generated a video walk-though animation of the space. She thought it was too unrefined in appearance, but I disagreed, as it explained well the scale, proportions, and inherent wayfinding of the overall space.
She presented it in-person to the airport director at the end of our next bi-weekly meeting. He showed no emotion while watching it, said he was late for another meeting, and left the room. I looked over to Mira, and with her head hung low, she quietly said “He hated it.”
Just then the director popped his head back though the room’s doorway, pointed at Mira, and said with a grin, “Email me my own personal copy of that video, I have a lot of important people to show it to.” Then he walked away.
“Yeah, he hated it!” I said with a wry smile.
This opportunity cemented her decision to study and become an architect and galvanized a professional relationship between her and our firm. This highlights the benefits of student mentorship on both sides—for the intern and for our firm.