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News . Feature Stories . Design firm internship helped build her confidence

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August 15, 2019

Design firm internship helped build her confidence

Interior Architecture students focus their skills on designing spaces for business and the public. Tiana Buchanan, who is majoring in interiors, spent the summer earning first-rate professional experience.

Photo of Tiana Buchanan

Tiana Buchanan, third from left, and team members at WD Partners in Columbus

By Elizabeth Wayne

Interior Architecture major Tiana Buchanan interned this summer at WD Partners, a design and branding company in Columbus, Ohio. The experience gave her confidence in her self-sufficiency, and she enjoyed living on the campus of The Ohio State University. She recently answered a few questions about the job.

What was your internship and what did you actually do?

I was an environment design intern. I supported the design team with their daily workload by taking on aspects of their work they might normally do themselves. That included participating in brainstorms, space planning, coloring renderings, creating inspiration boards, and selecting furniture for projects.

What was the best part of your experience?

Having the opportunity to learn as I work. I’ve always been the type of person who learns from doing rather than listening or watching, so being able to learn as I go was really great. Everybody on the team gave me great advice and criticism, so every time I helped out on a new project I was able to be more confident and efficient than I was on the last project.

Where do you find creative inspiration? Did your internship give you a new means of inspiration?

I think what’s been really inspiring about working at WD has been the environment and the people. Working with so many people who are passionate about what they do inspires me to give every project my best, and ask for others’ opinions on how I can improve. I feel really inspired to take what I’ve learned here and apply it to everything I work on when I get back to CIA this semester.

Any unexpected aspects of your internship?

I really wasn’t expecting to be so involved in the daily proceedings of the office. I think I’ve heard a lot of stories about interns doing kind of menial work, like making copies or laying out PowerPoint presentations. Instead, when I approached someone asking if they needed help with their work, they’d take the time to find something meaningful for me to do, usually something they were planning on doing themselves. I even talked to the interns in other departments at WD and found that almost all of us were surprised by the amount of responsibility they trusted us with.

How did you find this internship?

A little before summer break, the head of the Interior Architecture Department, Mike Gollini, reached out to me and let me know that WD was looking for summer interns, and he wanted me to send them my portfolio and resume. The two people at WD he had me send my information to were people I’d met through CIA at the internship and career fairs, so they sort of knew of me already.

One piece of advice for others seeking internships?

Start early. If you’re thinking about getting an internship for the summer, you should be looking for opportunities to build your resume and portfolio outside of class in fall, winter, and spring, too. For me, that meant freelance design work throughout the year, as well as an internship this past winter. I think when people can tell you’re putting in extra effort, it makes them more inclined to want to help you find even more opportunities. CIA’s Career Center has been a huge help.

What is one thing you learned about yourself through this experience?

I think this experience has made me feel more secure when it comes to being self-sufficient. Interning in Columbus meant having to find a place, transportation, and make sure my necessities would be covered, all in a pretty short amount of time. It’s been a pretty big change from staying in the dorms right across the street from CIA.

What has been your best non-job experience this summer?

The best thing about my overall experience has been living on the Ohio State campus. One of the reasons I chose CIA is that I liked the small-school structure. But getting to stay on such a huge campus where everything is within walking distance and most of the people I see wherever I go are other students has been a nice change.

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We're thrilled that designer and CIA alum Molly Fitzpatrick will be speaking at our fall open house on October 5. https://t.co/6rK47GEAl9

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