In an effort to recognize our outstanding employees and provide a glimpse into our values-based culture, GuernseyTingle will periodically post about the individuals that make our firm a truly exceptional place to work. This time we sat down with an amazing Architectural Designer, Nikki O’Regan, and asked about her experience at GuernseyTingle.
How long have you been with GT? What do you do at GT?
Nikki: I have been at GT for about a year and a half. I work in the architecture department. I do everything from helping with schematic design to the production of construction documents.
What types of projects have you worked on?
Nikki: I have worked on multi-family residential projects, animal care projects, theme park projects, various commercial projects, and some interior design projects.
What do you like the most about your job?
Nikki: I like learning. I feel like every day I learn something new.
What opportunities have you had at GT that you think would be difficult to find at other places of employment for a fresh architecture school graduate?
Nikki: Something that drew me to GT was the theming and entertainment projects. I really appreciate the amount of creativity and detail that goes into those types of projects. I had the opportunity to work on one of the Busch Gardens projects and I hope to work on more of them in the future.
Do you feel like you get enough mentorship and support with your licensure process at GT?
Nikki: Yes, I have been able to knock out many of the hours I need for licensure, and the firm has helped me find projects that will allow me to get hours for some of the more difficult categories to complete. When I get to the point where I am ready to start taking the exams, I know there are a lot of people I can go to for support and information, including my mentor. Outside of the world of licensure, everyone I work with is so friendly and supportive. I don’t feel like there is anyone I can’t talk to or that I can’t go to if I need something. I feel like GT is one big happy family.
What’s been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Nikki: I have heard some of my coworkers refer to me as a “Rockstar.” That makes me feel like I’m doing a good job and gives me the confidence to keep working hard.
Who or what inspired you to pursue the career of an architect?
Nikki: When I was in high school, I had a hard time figuring out what career path I wanted to take. I excelled in most subjects in school, so I had too many options from which to choose. When I discovered architecture, I knew it would be a good fit for me. Architecture allows me to exercise both the logic side and the creative side of my brain. There are so many sides to architecture, and I am always learning new things that change the way I think about architecture and design.
What’s the best advice you can give to someone who is just graduating college or starting their career?
Nikki: Apply for internships while you are in school. Try to do as many internships as you can and try to do them at different types of firms. By the time you graduate, you will have an idea of what you are looking for in a firm, and you will make connections with people that may help you down the road.
What advice can you offer about what to look for in a firm when job hunting?
Nikki: Don’t wait until the last minute to design your portfolio. Your portfolio is a firm’s first impression of your work and the type of designer you are, so it’s important to put time and effort into it.
What is your secret talent that no one knows about?
Nikki: Many of my coworkers know this about me. I love playing board games. Strategic games, card games, word games, dice games, etc. I love them all. If you ask anyone who has played with me, I am really competitive and get into whatever game we are playing. I love it because it’s a great way to have fun and spend time with your friends.
What are your hobbies? What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Nikki: Anything where I can use creativity to make something awesome. I love cooking, baking, sewing, painting, crafting, etc.
What is your funniest/most memorable/most embarrassing moment at GT?
Nikki: My most embarrassing moment is when I found out the portfolio I was showing to firms to find a job after school had a lot of typos in it. When I was peer editing and showing it during interviews, I never read directly from the page. I just talked about the projects that were in it. I proofread while I was producing it, but my eyes and mind skipped over some of the mistakes, so I just never caught them. Since then, I have learned where the spell check is in InDesign, and I meticulously read over everything I send out. I can laugh about it now because my work was able to shine over the mistakes, and I work at GuernseyTingle, my first choice. Everything worked out fine, but it was definitely a lesson learned.
What is the coolest thing you’re working on right now?
Nikki: Hampton Aquatics Center. Fun Fact: My introduction to the firm was through Chris and Kristin at the Virginia Tech Career fair. I showed them my portfolio, and one of the projects in my portfolio was a natatorium I designed my third year. As we discussed my project, Chris mentioned he was also working on a natatorium, the Hampton Aquatics Center. Fast forward about a year and a half, and I’m working on that very same project with him.
Click here to learn more about Nikki O’Regan. Please share this with any aspiring architecture or interior design students or recent graduates who may want to join our team (#lovewhereyouwork).
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