By Rebecca Bish
July 29, 2020

I still remember the first time I visited GuernseyTingle.

I was a senior in high school and managed to schedule a bit of time out of one of the busy architect’s schedules. I needed to interview a professional in the field architecture as one of the requirements for my senior thesis project. After doing some research, I found an architecture firm near my house- that being GuernseyTingle. When I called to ask about interviewing an architect, they were more than willing help and were very eager for me to visit their office. I was greeted with a warm welcome and an immediate tour of the firm. I remember everyone being so friendly and interested in what I was doing- it made all my nerves dissolve away. I interviewed Stephanie Kalantarians, who also attended the same high school and who studied architecture at the same university I hoped to attend in the fall. Stephanie offered advice and input, not only on my thesis project but also on architecture in general. I found my visit to the office and my discussion with Stephanie to be inspiring- I aspired to become an architect. That visit relieved any doubt I had about pursuing the profession.

I maintained contact with Stephanie during my first few years at architecture school. Despite not having any experience, I was offered an internship with GuernseyTingle towards the end of my 3rd year. Although I already knew about the firm’s welcoming culture, I was still incredibly nervous because this was my first “real world” architecture experience, and I didn’t want to let them down. The three-month internship flew by, and I learned more than I ever could have imagined. I was very appreciative of the patience shown by those who worked with me. Whenever I made a mistake or found myself lost (like having NO IDEA what I was doing with Revit), their architects were always there to provide guidance. Everyone was and still is, so hardworking and enthusiastic that it made my internship an enjoyable and rewarding college experience. This was the first job I had where I did not dread going to work each day, I actually looked forward to it every morning, and felt like a valuable member of the team despite my lack of experience. GuernseyTingle felt like a family to me, and I was sad to leave when my internship was over.

During my last two years of architecture school, I had many discussions with my peers about their internships and experiences. I quickly realized how fortunate I was to have been a part of such a great team as GuernseyTingle. As it turns out, it isn’t so common to have staff meetings filled with laughter or have everyone in the office show interest in your life and goals. The endless encouragement, accessibility of staff (from the president to the first-year architects), and reoccurring company get-togethers (aka stress busters) gave me a clear picture of the type of firm I wanted to join after graduation.

During my final year of architecture school, I began searching for jobs and visiting firms all around Virginia. I was unsure what my next step would be, but I found that no matter what firm I visited or who I spoke to, something just did not feel right. Towards the end of the year, I discovered that GuernseyTingle was hiring for a full-time entry-level position. After some consideration, I pursued the job and was extended an offer to work full time with the very firm that gave me my first opportunity in this field. I realized this is where I belonged, and I could not have imagined a better team to work with, especially at the beginning of my career.

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