College can be a confusing and stressful time for a lot of students as they try to figure out their career path and develop skills to help them be successful in the field that they choose. One of the best ways to explore career options and develop skills that you can’t learn in the classroom is to participate in a co-op experience.
My name is Ashley Colbert and I’m the current marketing co-op at SHP. I’m also a senior at the University of Cincinnati and I am majoring in marketing and business analytics and minoring in psychology. When I’m not co-oping or in class, I love performing in musicals around the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area, playing piano, or cooking. After I graduate I hope to pursue a career in market research and my co-op experiences have helped me narrow down on this career path, understand what I want out of a full time job, and gain real-life experience in the marketing field.
At SHP the emphasis is not only on designing and building the best learning spaces, but also focusing on lifelong learning and the importance that these learning spaces have on the lives of the people that will use them. I can see the focus on learning and growth throughout the company, especially in the co-op program. From day one, I was asked what goals I had for the semester and since then I’ve been assigned various projects to work on that pertain to my goals. I’ve gotten to develop my creative marketing skills a lot more by using programs like InDesign and Illustrator and I’ve been able to bring more analytics into the SHP marketing department by utilizing Google Data Studios to track SHP’s website metrics. I was also pleasantly surprised by how laid back the SHP work culture is. is definitely a ‘work hard play hard’ vibe in the office and there are plenty of fun wellbeing activities to keep everyone happy and less stressed. From meditation seminars, weekly beer club meetings, lunches with board games, and an office masseuse, SHP continues to amaze me with all of the things they do to keep their employees happy and healthy.
One of the things that I’m learning at SHP that will translate to my future career is the importance of adapting to a company’s brand. In marketing it will be important for me to understand branding and know how to keep things on brand. I’ve gotten to see how SHP is rebranding and redesigning for themselves as well as for clients. I’m also learning the importance of having an open mind when approaching projects in the workplace. I’ve been asked to use programs that are entirely new to me and do things that I’ve never done before and even though this can be challenging at times, I know that I will benefit greatly from being pushed out of my comfort zone. It’s been a great first few weeks here at SHP and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the semester has in store!
Here’s what the other co-ops have to say about their experience at SHP so far:
Carly Biega (Architecture Co-op)
Carly is a Junior at the University of Cincinnati and she is majoring in architecture. She is originally from Lexington, Kentucky and in her spare time she enjoys thrift shopping, crafting, playing sports and cooking. She is also the Vice President of Recruitment for her sorority, Theta Phi Alpha. When asked about her first few weeks at SHP, Carly says:
“ One thing I’ve learned is how the office uses multiple design teams to produce an ideal result. At my prior co-op I learned a lot about constr
uction and did more design phase work, but I didn’t work in such a large office setting so I did architecture and interior details. I like working with all separate teams and figuring out where roles diverge. One thing that has surprised me so far is how everyone only uses Revit. I’d li
ke to thank everyone at SHP for being so welcoming and helpful and the morning donuts are always appreciated so thanks to whoever brings those in!”
Ummul Buhari-Mohammed (Architecture Co-op)
Ummul is also a Junior at the University of Cincinnati majoring in architecture. She was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey and was inspired to become an architect at the age of 6 by her grandfather who is a retired architect. Tadao Ando is her favorite architect. Ummul now lives in Columbus, Ohio and when she isn’t at work or in class she enjoys learning languages, reading, playing volleyball, and photography. When asked about her experience at SHP so far, Ummul says:
“SHP focuses a lot on energy and cost savings. Working and collaborating with the engineers has helped me learn more about how a building design can be tweaked in small ways to save more money. I’ve learned how to get creative when plans drastically change and adapt to be able to solve problems quickly and efficiently. One thing that’s surprised me about SHP is the relaxed environment. This is my first time working in a firm, and it’s really not as I expected. In my first co-op, I worked in a non-profit studio and worked on a project for a non-profit organization essentially independently so I had knowledge on the broad view of how architecture works. My co-op at SHP has narrowed architecture down for me to be able to understand the specifics of how things work. This helps me understand more about everyone’s roles in a project and how people in various fields work together.”
Michelle Ens (Mechanical Engineering Co-op)
Michelle is a second year at the University of Cincinnati majoring in mechanical engineering. She is a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts and achieved the Silver award (the highest award a Girl Scout can earn), and she enjoys reading and knitting in her spare time. SHP is her first co-op and this is what she has to say about it so far:
“So far at SHP I’ve learned how to use Revit. Revit is an important tool that is used by many other companies so this skill will help me a lot in my future co-ops and career. I am also learning basic practices that are used in every building. This is my first co-op so I’m not used to working in an office and it isn’t quite what I expected but I am really enjoying it so far.”
Meg McKnight (Architecture Co-op)
Meg is a Junior at the University of Cincinnati majoring in architecture. She plays saxophone in the UC Bearcats band, is a member of the sorority Pi Beta Phi, and enjoys crafting, playing piano, and photography. When asked about her first few weeks at SHP, Meg says:
“So far I have learned how SHP sets up construction documents and how the company organizes projects. I’ve also learned how much SHP cares for each client and the betterment of education through innovative means in architecture.
Having the opportunity to experience different project types and office atmospheres will help me in the future by giving me a well-rounded understanding of architecture in the workplace. One thing that has surprised me about SHP is how the office can maintain such great energy and a positive atmosphere every day. The past few weeks at SHP have been very enjoyable, and I can’t wait to learn even more during my time here!”
Austin Woodruff (Interior Design Co-op)
Austin is a Junior at the University of Cincinnati majoring in interior design. Outside of work and school he enjoys painting, writing, and continually rearranging the furniture in his apartment. He is also always willing to strike up a conversation on gender, equity, and tolerance (in design and in life). He feels that these are important, yet difficult to understand issues and as a designer, it personally relates to facets that affect so many millions of people over the course of their lives. When asked about his experience co-oping at SHP Austin says:
“I’ve learned the capacity an effective network has in aiding the role of designers and architects. SHP’s materials library, for instance, has proven to be an invaluable tool, given its size and continued growth. The vendors and reps who visit us in the office, too, have carried with them breadth and resources that maintain the value of such a strong network. Since beginning at SHP in August, the value of teamwork in this office has been immediately apparent. Without much experience in the field, it’s still obvious to me that there’s a culture of responsibility here unlike anything I’ve been exposed to. This is something I hope to engage with as much as possible to better understand the tangible projection of design into actuality. I was surprised to walk into such an inviting office with so many different people under one ceiling. It’s amazing how efficiently the office runs and how individuals communicate.”
Jacob Rutherford (Electrical Engineering Co-op)
Jacob is in his fourth year of the University of Cincinnati’s Electrical Engineering program. He also is a Cadet in the Army ROTC Bearcat Battalion where he has held the rank of Squad Leader, Platoon Sergeant and First Sergeant. Additionally, he has served as Vice President of the Society of American Military Engineers from August 2015 to December 2017. One of his other hobbies is collecting old coins and currency from the U.S. and around the world and he is a member of the Triangle Fraternity at the University of Cincinnati. Here’s what Jacob has to say about his time at SHP so far:
“So far I’ve learned how to use Revit and Visual. I am surprised by how much really goes into designing a building, it’s even more than I originally thought. I really enjoy the atmosphere at the office and the lengths that SHP goes to make working here enjoyable. I also have been enjoying the ‘Lunch and Learn’ events.”
It’s clear that all the co-ops, myself included, have learned a lot in the short amount of time that we’ve been at SHP. The company has done a great job of teaching us what we need to know to be successful in our roles and they have been able to tailor projects to what we hope to accomplish while we’re here. I know that my experience at SHP will be valuable to me as I move further into my career and I think that any student who is looking to develop new skills, grow professionally, and meet some amazing people along the way should consider participating in a co-op experience.