This year WHSAD students have had the opportunity to participate in RAMSA’s pre-mentorship program. RAMSA, which stands for Robert A.M.Stern Architects, is a 265 person firm that consists of architects, interior designers, and landscape architects. Founded by Robert Arthur Morton Stern, RAMSA is a fifty-year old firm. In the first session, WHSAD students learned about the day in the life of a RAMSA’s architects, interior designers, and landscape architects. During this day, students remotely participated in a design exercise. In the second session, WHSAD students had a portfolio workshop in which they learned about developing a comprehensive and convincing portfolio.
During the first session of RAMSA we focused on what creates the atmosphere of home. Each participant had to correlate one word with the idea of home. Some common themes people came up with were relaxing, calm, hospitality, and family. To these students, an ideal home was somewhere that provided a tranquil environment that was tailored to each person. While doing this activity, many of us recognized how versatile a space has to be, not only a house but all spaces. Each space needs to be tailored to the person or people who own or work/live in it as well as the theme of the area/business. This reminded me of how many variables are put into perspective and play while creating different areas.
During the second session of RAMSA the instructors/guest speakers went over portfolios, resumes, networking, and how to perform while attending an interview. The speakers went over the design aspect of portfolios and resumes, and they went over how to conduct yourself while in interviews or while you network. They gave great pointers on what and what you shouldn’t do while constructing your portfolio. From this session the students had two main takeaways. the first takeaway was to make sure you do research on the place you are trying to get into/the business. The reason why this is so important is because it will allow you to construct a tailored portfolio and resume that will resonate with employers. This will also help you stand out when you are doing an interview and while you are networking with potential employers/coworkers. The second takeaway from this presentation was to stay true to yourself. Even though you want to please potential employers/coworkers, you also don’t want to lose yourself in doing so. You want to try and find a middle ground. If you can do so, not only will you stand out for relating to the company/person you will also allow the person to see your actual self/your personality which is also important.
Zaniya Pacius, an 8th grader who has been working with WHSAD, provided her perspective of RAMSA’s pre-mentorship program:
In the first session, I was nervous but I was able to meet experienced people, who taught me and answered questions I had regarding design aspects. I enjoyed being in a meeting with people who shared similar interests with me. I also worked on a project, and I enjoyed being creative. This project taught me not to view a home/building by its physical aspects but also what is going to be used for.
In the second session, I learned a lot about job interviews, applications, and resumes. I took notes, and I asked a couple questions regarding this topic because this is a process I’m going to be going through. I was given a lot of information and I’m glad the RAMSA staff took their time out to give me advice about job interviews and resumes.
This experience affected my perspective because I never knew the information I received in the meetings. It was never pressed to me nor I had someone to inform me. I feel more prepared and knowledgeable about architecture as well. I had a great time in these meetings, and now I have a deeper interest in the work.
This experience will impact my future because I wrote down important information that I’ll use in future references. This info will guide me for the college and job I want to apply for. My goal is to become an interior designer. The RAMSA presenters helped when it comes to knowing what I need/should have in my future portfolio, when I sign up for an internship in college, and after graduating, getting a job with a firm.
Christal Lewis, Zaniya Pacius’s Mother, also attended RAMSA’s pre-mentorship program and shared her thoughts:
We learned the different opportunities available to Zaniya, such as mentorships, fellowships, and internships throughout high school and college. She’s also understanding the process of finding inspiration, creating, designing, and presenting her projects. We spoke about building portfolios and being professional.
Zaniya will benefit from these takeaways by being more prepared for college and job interviews. She will be more comfortable with interviewing skills and putting together portfolios. Also, she will be ready to create and design because of her understanding the full creative process from high school throughout her professional career.
I would definitely recommend RAMSA’s pre-mentorship program to other parents. They’ve made a big effort to give the students a realistic idea about the life of an architectural designer.
Kimberly Castro, a WHSAD Junior, shared her perspective of RAMSA’s pre-mentorship program:
The first session had a significant impact on me and the way I see certain everyday things since we were told to write words related to home and after we had to draw anything that represented the words chosen. The reason why I say it made me see everyday things different is because you can create art from the smallest simple things in life. You can transform anything to an incredible piece of work.
This experience has definitely affected my perspective of art in a positive way. I used to think that in order to create art I had to have an specific object to draw or an specific view however this is not the case. Art has many different ways to be created and as long as it has significance to you, it would be amazing.
This experience would impact my future in the sense that whenever I want to draw anything I can just write down words related to a topic and be able to draw anything I want instead of getting frustrated because I don’t know what to draw. This will definitely help me in the future.
Matthew Zaczeniuk, a WHSAD Sophomore, provided his perspective of RAMSA’s pre-mentorship program:
In my opinion I think RAMSA is a great program for aspiring architecture students such as me. RAMSA had a great impact on me both in the short term, but also in the long term. Talking about the short term, RAMSA provided me with a great break from the monotony of school and gave me time to really think and interact with other students and mentors. It was a great session because of the small project we were able to do, which was creating a sort of “mood board” that reflected our idea of what home looks and feels like. In this project we were tasked with coming up with a word that we best thought described what home feels like to us specifically and then finding corresponding images or other words. I took a different approach to this project and came up with an idea that was more abstract but also more relatable. I fired up Blender and started creating pieces of furniture, such as a table, bed, and TV. I kept the shapes simple and primitive and blurred a background of an actual home in Photoshop to where I had a rough backdrop to place the different pieces of furniture. With the bright and blurred background I made the furniture contrast heavily by making it all black and un-textured. I did this for the simple reason that when we think of our “home,” we all associate it with what we have specifically in our homes or rooms. Everyone has a different TV that they associate with their living room and their own bed that they think of when imagining their room. My goal for this project was to get people to think about their own experiences, even if the goal was obscured by the short time period we had to create and finalize our boards.
The second session was a more down to earth session where we talked about the qualities and necessities of a successful architect/designer. The mentors talked about the necessity of having a good looking portfolio, specifically as to what medium it should be displayed on, such as a physical portfolio or a digital one, or both! They also talked about how to convey yourself in an interview and what you should do during the interview. Some examples were what questions you should ask to what time you should arrive at an interview and what you should bring to the interview. Some mentors also shared some anecdotes of their experiences in interviews. Overall it was a very informative session.
I think that I learned a huge deal of information throughout these two sessions and gained experience and insight into what the life of an architect or designer is actually like. My perspective of architecture and the overall area of design changed slightly. Session two specifically was like a re-orientation of the camera. This session gave me knowledge on what I need to do in order to prepare to be an architect and designer. I believe the knowledge gained from this session is going to help me in the future because I know what to expect and I can plan accordingly such as creating an amazing looking portfolio and understanding my future path.