For the past 5 years, we’ve proudly partnered with Meredith College to give interior design students in the Construction Technology program the opportunity to take tours of our commercial project sites.
Each semester, we work with the professor of the course, Lisa Wilson, telling her about our current projects and together we decide which one would be most beneficial for her students to visit. For example, during the 2019 Fall Semester, the students toured a restaurant renovation. The students also visited a residential job site that was coordinated with Rufty Homes. This gives them a chance to see the similarities – and differences – between commercial and residential projects, firsthand.
While many students plan to pursue residential interior design work, we like to use the tour to show them that interior designers are an important part of commercial projects as well. They’re integral to a project’s success and a vital part of the construction team, which is on display as we walk through the site.
Lisa explains, “I try to teach my students that team effort is crucial for every construction process. Drawings are only about 60% of the process; everything else happens out in the field. Getting to take them to an actual construction site and see the teamwork in action is eye-opening for them.”
During a tour, the students visit one of our construction sites and interact with some of our team members. It gives the students the opportunity to ask questions and get feedback from people in roles that they may not work with regularly, once they graduate and begin their careers in interior design.
While this is a great learning opportunity for the students, our team also appreciates the chance to serve as mentors for the future of our profession. Jeremy Donaldson, one of our Project Superintendents, says, “I really enjoy accompanying the students on the tour. They get to see how real-world construction looks compared to on paper, in the classroom. The lessons they learn in the field will help them to better understand what they are learning in school.”
We try to select sites that are in the middle of construction, so the students are able to “look inside the walls” and get a better understanding of every little thing that goes into the construction process. Equipped with hard hats for safety, they walk around the site just as they will once they begin their design careers.
The tour also helps prepare them for their final project of the semester, when they must work in groups to put together a set of construction documents. For many students, it’s their first time on a job site, so it can be an eye-opening experience. Lisa believes that the tour helps them better understand their final project, and as a result, it helps them complete it more successfully.
Lisa explains, “Many of my students have never been on a construction site and they may not be familiar with some of the methods of construction that we get to see onsite. This experience really lets them get into the ‘nuts and bolts’ of a project and see the big picture instead of just focusing on one small aspect of a project.”
We’re proud to partner with this local college to help shape the careers of these future interior designers!