The SOM Women’s Initiative (SOMWI) hosted its fourth annual winter internship from January 6–9, 2015, for outstanding female students currently studying architecture, engineering, or related fields. Intended to offer critical office exposure and mentorship to women who plan to pursue a career in the design profession, the program gives students the opportunity to several days in an SOM office shadowing professionals in a variety of disciplines.
SOM’s New York office welcomed six undergraduate and graduate students to the New York office: Yuan-Tung Chao (Harvard Graduate School of Design), Chije Kang (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, currently studying abroad at CUNY New York City College of Technology), Elizabethe Manzi (Stanford University), and Larissa Sattler (Roger Williams University). The Chicago office hosted one undergraduate student, Lyn Kim (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and one graduate student, Vichithra Hitihamiarachchilage (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). Mengxing Wang, a graduate student at Columbia University, spent the week at the Washington D.C. office, while Amy Hu, also a graduate student at Columbia University, shadowed at the San Francisco office. SOM’s London office will host a week-long SOMWI shadowing opportunity this April.
At each office, students were paired with multiple mentors in a variety of departments including architecture, interior design, urban planning, management, marketing, and engineering. Over the course of the week, their tasks ranged from attending client meetings and sitting in on design charrettes to assisting on drawings and touring construction sites. By the end of the immersive program, participants came to know the spectrum of roles and responsibilities at SOM.
The SOM Women's Initiative was established in 2011 to cultivate and promote the continued development and success of women at SOM and within the design discipline. SOMWI aims to encourage a sense of community and professional support within the firm through various mentoring programs, workshops, and internal networks.