Shanice Reflects on her Engaging Internship
This summer, we welcomed Shanice Lam to our team for an urban design internship. A recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s Architecture program, Shanice came to Pittsburgh from Hong Kong with an interest in green buildings and working with communities. At the conclusion of her internship with us, we interviewed Shanice to hear her biggest takeaways and plans for the future.
What did you gain from your experiences this summer working at evolve?
SL: The first few weeks of my internship I attended a couple of community meetings for the Perryville and Chartiers Avenues of Hope project, and also the Forest Hills Ecodistrict. Getting to sit in to hear real people, real residents talk, is really grounding. I did have a few community meetings in Christine’s studio while I was at CMU. For those, I think we were really lucky because the community members knew we were students so they were positive the whole time. The few meetings I attended this summer were more realistic. You see how thoughts can be messy.
One thing that helped me think through various strategies to talk to community members was helping to create the Forest Hills Engagement Tool Kit. For that, I was tasked with finding strategies to engage the community, and I gained a lot from looking through evolve’s Community Engagement Strategy Deck. I usually default to a few icebreaker questions, but the deck introduced me to new strategies. “I learned that we can be really intentional with how we present ourselves, and also how we collect information from the community as well.”
Can you tell us about your next steps, big dreams, and what’s in store for your near future?
SL: Sure! I will be attending the two-year Urban Design program at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (GSD). After the first year of core classes, I am looking forward to taking electives that focus on my passion of sustainable and equitable planning. I also want to challenge myself to be more interdisciplinary by studying policy and economics, which influence the built environment. I want to get an architecture license in the future, so I will also need to stay current with the requirements for that goal.
Awesome! And just curious, how did you learn about evolve?
SL: I’ve always been interested in urban sustainability, but I didn’t know how much I could specialize in it in the workplace. Then I read up on evolve’s work after having Christine as a professor, and I was like, “what? This is a thing?!” It really meshed a lot of avenues I was interested in. And then on top of that, I came here and the people are so fun. I was really lucky to find evolve and to be hired, and I’m also lucky to have an actual good experience after I started here as well. I don’t know how many other places are like evolve, but I hope there are more of these types of firms out there. A lot of times we act as mediators or bridges between the architects and the planners and the teachers. I feel like we’re good at holding everything together. We’re able to be generalists, but then in a lot of ways, we’re also specialists. Navigating that balance is really cool to me.
NC: I’m glad. It’s great to have you. I hope it helped form at least one possibility of what is out there in the world. And if there are no more evolves, perhaps you can go and create them! You will of course always have us as connections that you can reach out to.
SL: I definitely hope this is just a start to connecting with you guys.
NC: Yes, definitely. It’s been a pleasure working with you this summer. Best of luck in your future endeavors!
SL: Thank you!