Intern Interview: Tarida Choeimalai

Intern Interview: Tarida Choeimalai


August 14, 2019

Tarida Choeimalai

What is the best advice you received?

Working in the “real world” is totally different from my experience in school and this internship allowed me to see how architects really work. It’s not only about designing aesthetic spaces – the work must match the client’s needs. By assisting with multiple projects, I realized how extensive the process behind each project is; even though all the moving parts were a bit much at first, it challenged me to learn and expand outside of areas I had previously worked in. The TRIA team was always very helpful and kindly gave me advice on matters my education didn’t cover. It wasn’t necessarily any one piece of advice in particular, but over my time here everyone has imparted a little bit of their experience to me.

What is your favorite part of the job?

On Friday mornings, everyone has breakfast together and shares stories, which helped me to meet everyone when I first started. Comparing it to experience in Thailand, the office is much more close-knit – like a small family. The culture here is very friendly and fun but still manages to maintain a good balance of professionalism. At first, I was worried to ask questions because I was so inexperienced and didn’t want to bother anyone with stupid questions, however, everyone was very supportive and encouraging when I was exploring new topics and didn’t understand something. By surrounding myself with the years of experience here and witnessing the design process, I‘ve been able to delve into many new topics I would not have otherwise been exposed to. The Lunch and Learn especially has been super helpful: I learned a lot about lab designing, code plans, equipment matrixes, etc., which I couldn’t learn from school.

What is a notable challenge you faced, and how did you overcome it?

Working on multiple projects at once without proper organizational strategies was confusing at first. I had to learn how to assess each project in terms of how much work it required and the urgency of the deadline to efficiently plan my weeks and days. At first, working with the design team, I was scared to share my opinion but after a week of working at TRIA I became more confident, because people would listen and continue to develop my thought process. I realized that even though I have less experience than others my opinion is important, because I gain more experience discussing it, and this will make me a better architect in the future. Gaining this confidence also helped when it came to my workload: as small as it sounds, I learned not to just say yes to anyone with a new job, but rather, to tell them that I would get to them as soon as I had completed the task at hand.

Has working at TRIA changed your opinion of your field of study? How?

I thought that being an architect meant designing spaces based on your personal preferences but after working here, I realize that most of the design depends on what clients prefer. Sometimes, I feel frustrated that we need to keep changing the drawings, but I remind myself to be patient, and that the iterations offer further design experience and will make me a better architect. When I return to school, I think this experience will continue to influence me, because I am more likely to create multiple options for an assignment and compare them, rather than complete a single design I like.

What do you wish you had more exposure to during your time here?

I wish I could have focused on one project, rather than jumping around so much, because I would have liked to deepen my understanding of how the schematic design process plays out. However, I also learned a lot from balancing multiple projects, since I got to see many different designs and solve new problems for each project. Moreover, I had the opportunity to work with everyone in the firm, which will make my work with other teams in the future easier.

What is your fondest TRIA-related memory?

The TRIA team made me feel welcomed and comfortable from day one, and I feel super thankful for everyone that kindly helped me develop my architectural and professional skills. I really like how people treat each other in this firm and take the time to sit down and get to know each other more. It’s been a huge opportunity for me to work overseas in the architectural field, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot.

What is a skill you learned or honed while working at TRIA?

Revit – though Google helped a lot with the small questions on the way. I definitely got better at presenting projects and the process behind them, as well as the details behind construction. I was a part of client meetings, and actively participated in TRIA meetings, which made me feel like I was part of the team, not just an intern.