Until being assigned my first project at Hollis and Miller last year, I couldn’t appreciate some advice I received on the brink of entering college, “You are getting an education to teach you how to learn.” Learning will be one of my great lifelong pursuits and is what Hollis + Miller exists to help people do.
Entering my first day, uncertainty abounded as to what life might be like working alongside architects. Several years of school helped lay the foundation of my design knowledge, but working through the first project made it clear how far I still had to go. Fortunately, I wasn’t completely thrown into the deep end. For the first several weeks Erik, another structural engineer, helped me get on my feet (coming from the same educational background). John, our structural department head, also was readily available to guide and answer the tough and simple questions. Helping me connect the dots, they brought me from the world of theoretical problems to that of practical design.
Countless times over the first year I felt a sense of gratitude for somewhat stumbling into such a great place. Not only did my assigned projects provide the opportunity to learn about the design of various construction materials, I was able to work on different types of projects with several architects within the firm. Exposure to such variety in the first year was such a blessing. Licensure is still a few years and two tests away, but opportunities I have been given are already helping me make great strides towards this goal.
After completing several projects, the design process would prove to be an iterative rather than linear road. Designs would change (multiple times), deadlines would be tight, and the more I was pushed the more I grew. Although client interaction for me would be rare, I learned to keep their interests in mind throughout each design decision.
Culture was a word often heard throughout the office, appearing in various meetings and being used in the context of the firm. Considering the culture I perceived to have stepped into, the fit was better than one could have asked for. H+M was, and is, intentional about growing the firm by growing the individual. Countless examples of the firm’s investment in its team members could be observed. Being in such a culture keep me be continually motivated to excel in each design problem; whether seemingly great or small.
Involvement in the Kansas City Corporate Challenge provided a prime example of H+M’s emphasis on balance for each team member. Running events (and promotional videos within the firm) gave me a chance to reveal a side my coworkers may not have expected from this young reserved engineer. An anniversary lunch was a welcomed opportunity to provide an update, feedback, and dialogue about the first year with the partners.
Closing this chapter of my first year at H+M I can look back and not help but be truly thankful to be a part of this team. Learning progressed at a seemingly exponential rate over the first year; looking ahead there is still a long way to go. Never would I have imagined I would learn so much, be a part of such a great team of designers or grow so much, one year later.