Life Goals: Education and Experience

This blog is by the newest member of our architecture team in our Columbus office, Sam Tibbs. Sam interned with SHP while he was completing his undergraduate degree, and reflects on his education and his experience through a study abroad trip.

As a teenager I developed a desire to study and work in the Architecture field, and set up a number of goals to help place me in the position to do so. Searching for schools which would provide the best experience related to my goals, I found the University of Cincinnati. In the University of Cincinnati’s college of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, students are encouraged to integrate experience into their education through a rotation of co-op semesters. During co-op semesters, students acquire internship positions across the country, gaining real-world work experience that can be reintegrated into their education during the following semester. This program is fairly unique in the United States and abroad, and is one of the reasons I was so excited to participate. After three co-op terms and over a year of work experience, I can still say that architecture and design are still strong passions for my future.

During our time in Bangkok, Thailand, we visited the undergraduate architecture college of Kasetsart University, and participated in a design challenge with local students. Our task was to partner with a Thai student, and use an interview and design process to develop methods to improve the gift giving process. During the challenge, my partner shared some if his goals concerning education in Thailand, and emphasized that these goals were shared by many students of the area. He spoke of a strong desire to experience as many different things as possible during education, not just work experience. Without an integrated co-op program, Thai students who wish to work in the field during education must acquire internships on their own, which is difficult to maintain given the education workload. Because of this, more focus is given to acquiring experience outside of architecture to inform future goals. Many students who followed this path would continue in the field of architecture, while others would move into fields they discovered to be more informative of their personalities.

This method of education was interesting to me because while it did leave the responsibility of finding jobs to the students, it also allowed them the freedom to discover that their field of study might not suit their full interests, and could be better realized elsewhere. My partner believed that as young and growing individuals, there is value in keeping enough options open to discover true passions. After hearing this, I considered myself lucky to have found this passion early, maintaining a strong desire to continue after experiencing it alongside my education.