September 21, 2023

Insights from Inside: The 2023 BWBR Intern Experience

BWBR student interns celebrate the start of summer at CEO Stephanie McDaniel's house.

2023 Summer Student Interns

The future of architecture and design is here. The BWBR internship program is designed to provide students with hands-on, real-world experience, but it’s a win for us too. We benefit from their incredible energy, innovative ideas, and fresh perspectives. We also get a sneak peek into where the industry is headed because we know these talented individuals will lead the way.

In the latest podcast episode, we sit down with a few of BWBR’s 12 student interns for 2023, each of whom has brought unique talents to our work and culture. Check out the recap below, and don’t forget to tune in for the full conversation as they share their experiences, growth, and advice for next year’s group!

BWBR student interns sit and stand in a casual circle at CEO Stephanie McDaniel's house.
The BWBR Madison Office celebrates National Intern Day at a park.
2023 Summer Student Interns

Meet the Interns

Nathan Davies, a student at the University of Minnesota, is heading into the third and final year of his master’s program in architecture. This is Nathan’s second summer with BWBR.

Lauren Burton began as an interior design intern and shifted to architecture while pursuing a Master of Architecture from the University of Minnesota. Lauren is joining us for her fourth summer, and her experience ranges from healthcare and justice to higher education and tech.

Jennifer (Joon) Ta, BWBR’s research and interior design intern, holds degrees in both areas and is pursuing a Master of Science in Architectural Research Practices at the University of Minnesota. Joon’s focus on forced labor in the supply chain of building materials reflects a deep commitment to ethical design practices.

Cail Tomlin, a student at Dunwoody College of Technology, is nearing completion of a five-year BArch program. Cail is currently working on a pediatric behavioral health project with BWBR and is considering a master’s program.

Mia Wang is our graphic design intern from Iowa State University. Mia is studying both graphic design and business, helping her lend a valuable angle to our design solutions.

The BWBR Experience

While every intern has a unique experience at BWBR, some key themes emerged during the conversation:

Incredible growth. The interns have been amazed by the immense growth they’ve experienced during their time at BWBR. The transition from academic projects to real-world applications has been both eye-opening and rewarding. “It’s so different when you’re working with real clients and trying to make their dreams come true,” says Mia. Of course, interns are not just thrown into the deep end — there is a lot of support! “There are a lot of people that I can reach out to for help with both my personal and career growth,” Joon says.

Empowered and engaged. While internships often have a reputation for being full of busy work, our group reports that BWBR is a totally different story. BWBR empowers interns to take on substantial projects right from the start. This approach makes sure that they’re actively engaged in meaningful work. Mia recalls sitting in on a meeting discussing a project on her very first day of the internship and being asked how she felt about taking on that work. It was “super surprising,” but she was thrilled.

Accessible leadership. The interns appreciate the visibility of leadership within the firm. Being able to reach out, ask questions, and contribute to meaningful discussions has significantly influenced their positive experiences. “One thing that really surprised me was the amount of visible leadership and how easy it is to access project managers, principals — everyone is very accessible,” Nathan says.

Culture of inclusivity and opportunity. Despite its size, BWBR maintains a warm and personal atmosphere, creating a conducive environment for growth and collaboration, our interns note. “It’s a company that really supports dreams and puts you where your interests lie,” says Lauren. Cail, for example, has been able to explore his interest in behavioral health projects throughout the summer. “It’s been great, even as a student intern, being able to have control of what I put my effort towards,” he says. The interns also mentioned meaningful perks like catered lunches, good coffee, and team-building events to help integrate them into the BWBR community.

Inside Insights

We’re so pleased that the interns have had a positive experience, and we feel incredibly lucky to have their insights and talent at BWBR! If you or someone you know is considering an internship with us, this year’s interns have some advice:

  • Speak up — spark conversations, ask questions, and share opinions.
  • Take initiative and go after projects you want.
  • Show up authentically as yourself.
  • Show passion and enthusiasm for your interests and ideas.
  • There’s no pressure to be perfect — you’re here to learn!

We also received some suggestions from the group — Cail mentioned that he’d love for future interns to have a dedicated set of resources specific to their role that can be used for onboarding, while Mia suggested that more visibility into roles outside of their own would be a great learning experience. We love that feedback and love the idea of current interns paying it forward to support the experience of future interns even more!

We want to give a huge thank you to our amazing 2023 group. We know they have bright futures ahead, and we look forward to seeing their next endeavors — hopefully some of which will be right here at BWBR!

Related Perspectives