What I Learned as an SHP Co-Op

With most schools around the country opening their doors to students once again, SHP had to say goodbye to one of our summer co-ops, Jacob Roberts. (Luckily for us, he’ll continue working part-time in our Columbus office through the end of the year!) 

Jacob, a 2020 Bowling Green State University graduate, currently pursuing his master’s in architecture and business administration, is no stranger to SHP. He has been an SHP co-op on four separate occasions—three in Columbus for architecture and one in Cincinnati for construction administration. 

While complementary—and critical—to one another, architecture and construction administration are vastly different parts of the field. And, it’s unusual for our co-ops to pursue experience in both. So, we sat down with Jacob to learn about his time as an SHP co-op, his advice for the next one, his most enjoyable project and more.  

How did you find the opportunity, and why were you interested in SHP? 

Two different avenues. My uncle actually works at SHP in business development, so that’s how I found out about the firm and what we do, initially. I also go to Bowling Green, and SHP designed our architecture studio, which sparked my interest. 

With my mom being an educator my entire life and my grandma being on the school board for my hometown, education always ran through my blood. So educational facilities are something I’ve always wanted to focus on. Luckily for me, that’s an SHP specialty.  

What does a typical day look like for you? 

It varies day-to-day. Being an architecture and a construction administration co-op gave me a peek behind the curtain into both sides of the job. One thing they have in common is that they’re not dull! There are days where you’re having a lot of fun and you’re doing a lot of design work, or maybe even a fly-through video for virtual reality at the school. Another day might be the total opposite. 

Every day is a new experience. I learned a lot about what the job looks like, which is different from how you learn in a classroom.  

Why did you decide to gain experience in both construction administration and architecture?  

Two of the co-ops I did were in architecture in the Columbus office, working on Clark Shawnee’s elementary school. Then, after I graduated with my undergrad in construction management, I wanted to get construction experience. Primarily the reason I did it was to get the required amount of AXP hours to get my architecture license.  

I am definitely glad I did it. Having construction knowledge can help you out drastically in the architecture world. I think that’s the main reason why the governing body for architects requires construction hours. They really want you to get in-depth building knowledge, which can improve the design of a building tremendously. 

What have you learned at SHP that you will take with you into your professional life? 

Probably the ability to turn a design into a reality. We learn a lot about design in school, which is good because the design is essential, but the process of actually making the building a reality is probably the most important lesson I learned being with SHP.  

Taking a concept from the interview stage all the way to the finished construction document is an experience that is hard to come by, especially as a student. Since I’ve been here for four years, I’ve been able to follow projects from the very beginning to the end, which is really awesome to see.  

What did you enjoy most about your experience with SHP? 

Well, my mom is a teacher, and with the primary focus of SHP being educational facilities, it felt like a perfect match. This co-op allowed me to design and develop schools, which was incredible. It allowed me to play a hand in enhancing the lives of the future youth of America. That’s probably the most rewarding part of what I do at SHP. 

I think the best part about SHP, too, is that it’s not your typical co-op experience. The firm really values what you bring to the table and empower you to use your strengths. 

I was most interested in construction administration. So, SHP allowed me to utilize my construction knowledge in some areas and taught me not to be afraid of failure. Everyone here is great at teaching and explaining concepts to push your knowledge further into what you’re interested in.

What was your favorite project? 

My favorite project that I worked on, which was very brief for me, was Dover High School (pictured above). I think that that school has excellent design aspects, from the lower-level courtyard all the way through the gymnasium space. That was probably the coolest building that I was involved in.  

What was the most challenging part of your experience? 

The most difficult part is just taking what you learned in school and then applying it to the actual profession. School doesn’t really teach you much about code or zoning or anything like that, so actually being able to do it in the real world is a big change. 

What advice would you give to the next SHP co-op? 

Don’t be scared to try new things. SHP is really great at taking what you’re interested in and letting you roll with it. So, if you’re interested in a new technology, for instance, show what you can bring to the table, and you’ll get the support and backing you need to succeed.