The College of Architecture, Arts, and Design (AAD) piloted a 1-credit special study course, BRIDGE Reflection Showcase. This course aims to provide students with an opportunity to update their resumes, reflect on their internship experiences, and present their learning to the AAD community. Based on the initial success, the college is considering offering it as a service to their schools.

Prior to the course, students completed a qualifying internship experience. Throughout the course, students engaged in various activities and assignments that helped them professionally frame their work experience, explore their prospective profession, and contextualize their internship through a case study. Assignments in the class included work logs and samples, resume, cover letter, case study of the internship company, personal reflection, and poster presentation. The course spanned five weeks, with weekly sessions consisting of a 1-hour guest lecture or student presentations and a ½ hour assignment introduction. The culmination of the course was a poster presentation held in Cowgill Lobby. 

Week 1: Students focus on career development, learning about resume writing, cover letter composition, job interview preparation, and job searching strategies. They update their resumes and write cover letters to their dream companies based on their internship experiences. 

Week 2: Students delve into understanding different company profiles and the field. They write case studies about their internship employers, exploring the company's nature and their role within it. 

Week 3: Students explore career paths, such as graduate school and apprenticeships. They learn about the advantages of pursuing an advanced degree, the application process for graduate school, and how to assemble a graduate portfolio. They also interview professionals who followed non-traditional paths in their field to gain insights into alternative career trajectories. 

Week 4: Students draw upon their bridge experience logs and assignments to reflect on what they have learned and consider their future career aspirations. They evaluate their experiences, identify their main takeaways, and determine their ideal job for personal and professional growth. 

Week 5: Students combine elements from their resume entry, firm profile, career path exploration, and professional work sample into a visually appealing poster. The course concludes with a poster presentation in the final week. 

Miranda Shugars, visiting professor of practice, co-taught the class during spring 2023 with Margarita McGrath, undergraduate chair and assistant professor. She noted that students enjoyed the workplace ethics scenarios and writing about their perspectives on the field and career aspirations. Students found structured assignments helpful, which reduced the time spent figuring out requirements and enabled them to focus on content.

How students benefit

Miranda said that the students in the class benefited from guest speakers and engaging discussions with professionals from distinct parts of the field. They enjoyed writing about their career aspirations and gained a deeper understanding of what it means to practice in their future profession. Furthermore, the showcase event involved students creating posters based on their class assignments. The posters were presented to a guest professor during class and later displayed in the Cowgill Lobby. The reception by faculty and students was positive, providing an opportunity for students to share their work and achievements. 

Alonzo Colon, an undergraduate student in Architecture, Arts and Design, said “Enrolling in the Bridge Experience class this semester has proven to be incredibly valuable for shaping my understanding of how to reflect on internships in relation to my career goals. As someone aspiring to establish my own architecture firm, the course has provided me with the necessary guidance to ask the right questions and delve deeper into the experiences gained during my internships. Throughout my previous internships, I have been fortunate to engage in a diverse range of tasks and projects, which have contributed significantly to my overall development. However, through this class, I have come to recognize the importance of being more discerning and specific in the types of experiences I seek in my professional journey. I now understand that the quality and relevance of these experiences will serve as the foundation of my knowledge and expertise when I eventually embark on establishing my own firm. By honing my ability to reflect on past internships, I have gained clarity on how certain experiences directly align with my long-term goals and dreams. This newfound insight has enabled me to identify the areas in which I need further growth and development to bridge the gap between my current skill set and the demands of my envisioned architecture firm.”

Alonzo Colon’s poster that was presented during AAD 3984: SS: BRIDGE Reflection Showcase.
Alonzo Colon’s poster that was presented during AAD 3984: SS: BRIDGE Reflection Showcase.

Why bridge experiences 

According to Miranda, bridge experiences are important as they allow students to gain exposure to their professional field before graduating. These experiences provide opportunities for exploration and surveying career options. The reflection component of the course fosters peer sharing and expands students' perspectives on potential career choices.

Alonzo reiterated how his bride experience has helped him in his academic journey, “The Bridge Experience class has equipped me with the tools and techniques to critically assess my internships, allowing me to extract valuable lessons, identify areas for improvement, and set strategic goals for my professional journey. By incorporating this reflective practice into my internship experiences, I am confident that I am actively shaping a trajectory toward achieving my aspirations in the field of architecture.”

Written by Nidhi Chopdekar and Heather Bradford