While taking part in a healthcare design studio at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), I discovered my interest in healthcare architecture. As an architecture graduate student at UTA, we are required to complete an internship at an architecture firm before graduation. I was very eager to work at E4H Environments for Health Architecture this summer.
Interning with E4H’s Dallas office was an amazing experience. As an intern, you might expect to be handed a bunch of busy-work. The E4H team makes it a priority to share their knowledge with students and younger professionals pursuing the field of architecture. The partners listen to what their interns are most interested in learning and strive to place them with the most appropriate mentors and projects. Over the summer, I was involved in several types of healthcare projects, in a variety of phases. This variation of work allowed me to work with almost everyone in our local office.
During my internship, E4H provided me with several learning opportunities, such as site visits. Working hard on a project and then getting to see the walls go up, was incredibly rewarding. Walking through a construction site and asking architects, engineers, and contractors questions was an invaluable experience. What I most appreciated about my coworkers at E4H was that no matter how busy they were, every person was willing to stop what they were doing to answer any questions I had.
In addition to the day-to-day work, the firm is dedicated to giving back to the community through its outreach group, E4Hcares. Every office strives to give back to their local community. This summer, I was involved in two E4Hcares initiatives with the Dallas and the Fort Worth offices: Canstruction and Bark+Build. Canstruction, an annual event held by North Texas Food Bank, is a competition to build a sculpture out of canned foods which are later donated to families in need. Bark+Build, hosted by the AIA, is a doghouse and cat-condo design/build competition between professional teams of architects and contractors, with all proceeds going to the SPCA of Texas. Both charities provide fun, challenging events that give architects and designers a chance to apply their creativity.
An important factor for me when looking for a place to work is the office environment. Everyone knows that it’s hard to work efficiently in a high-stress, high-pressure work setting. E4H is full of knowledgeable professionals that work together in a laid-back atmosphere, while successfully getting things done. While working at E4H, I noticed that the company had an “everybody knows everybody” office culture. E4H is a large firm but has a small firm vibe. I also took notice that the Partners at E4H value taking care of their employees. For example, during the summer, they allow their employees to work an extra hour Monday through Thursday so they can take a half-day off on Friday to be with their families.
E4H was a remarkable group of people to work with, and I enjoyed spending my summer with them. I am grateful for the opportunity. I have gained healthcare architecture knowledge, as well as many skills that will benefit my academics and my career as an architect. Oh, I almost forgot, keep in mind that at the end of the day when the work is done, you better watch your back because everyone has a Nerf gun at their desk. It’s everyone for themselves and you might just get popped when you least expect it!