The role of internships in preparing our students for professional practice cannot be understated. Here is a great example of a student moving from internship to full-time position. College of Architecture + The Arts alumna Peta-Gaye Walker (MIA ’14) acquired a full-time position at Touzet Studio upon graduating from Florida International University.
Touzet Studio is a full-service architecture, interior design and planning firm, with its well-known commercial projects involving GAP, Michigan Avenue Retail, and 3711 NE 2nd Avenue. In January 2014, Touzet Studio hired Petas an intern working as their Material Librarian. “I found out later through my supervisor,” said Walker, “that it was because of my reputation as a diligent student, enthusiasm for FIU, professionalism, and knowledge about materials and relationships with vendors and other professionals in the industry that the company e-mailed me and offered me an internship position.” Walker said that, at the time, the duties of the internship were overwhelming, but she realized that the experience and information she gained was invaluable. “The Studio focused on teaching each designer as if they were project managers, and I got a chance to see all the minor and major details I may not have seen otherwise.”
Walker’s supervisor, Kate Healy (Senior Interior Designer at Touzet Studio), became her mentor for her Masters thesis, a mixed-used project entitled “The White Elephant Culinary Resource Center & Food Bank.” After attending Walker’s thesis presentation, Healy offered Walker a full-time position as Design Assistant.
“Peta has been as asset to me since she started,” said Healy. “She has a positive, outgoing personality which is always appreciated. Initially, when she started, she was finishing her Thesis project, and though I know how time consuming that can be, she was still very dependable and able to help with impending studio deadlines. I have appreciated Peta’s desire to learn and ask questions. When something is left unclear she makes sure to clarify the intent and understand the task fully. It’s refreshing to have someone who can work both on Interiors and be a help to our architectural team when needed. She’s an asset, and I hope she will be with us for a long time!”
Walker says that her education at FIU prepared her well for her professional experience at Touzet Studio. “The teachers prepared me,” she said. “[T]hey…were honest and open about the reality of our industry. They didn’t sugarcoat anything, and no matter how high they raised the bar, they provided us with tools [with which] to reach that bar and achieve our goals.” Walker appreciates the support she received from FIU Interior Architecture faculty. “[I]t made a world of difference to have people who believe in you as a designer.”
Walker acquired her BA in Sociology from Florida Atlantic University. She has been an Administrative Assistant at Hazen & Sawyer, PC., a Logistical Assistant at FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority), and a Design Assistant at CESI, INC. During her time at FIU, Walker was FIU Interior Architecture’s Graduate Assistant for the Online Resource Material Library. She also ran her own unofficial fraternity called “Mama Peta,” for which she is still the caretaker and through which she has created relationships with both her class and undergraduates. Walker, additionally, was the Festival of the Trees Auctioneer from 2011 to 2013. She said she is proud to have been part of this fundraising campaign for education on interior architecture. She said, “…[T]o be a part of making such an event a success is very dear to me and important. FIU has become very important to me and I have learned a lot and want to give back.”
The department would like to thank all of the firms that provide this valuable opportunity of internships to our students. These successful partnerships between the university and the professional world helps strengthen the profession and build new leaders in the discipline.