My last eight months interning with RVi have been a blast. I’ve learned so much in a relatively short period of time, and I have a much better idea of what the professional world will look like when I graduate from LSU next year. From day one, RVi offered a welcoming work environment – I couldn’t have asked for better coworkers or a better internship experience.  I came to RVi as part of a fourth-year internship built into the curriculum at LSU. I’m from a rural community in Calcasieu Parish in Southwest Louisiana, and Austin is the largest city I’ve ever lived in. It’s been great getting out of my comfort zone and heading across the Sabine to Texas, where everything really is bigger.

At RVi, I wish I could say that I was instantly able to do every task without any difficulty…but that was not the case. A certain amount of confusion and indecisiveness are critical parts of any learning experience, and I was not without either. One piece of advice I would give to future interns is that oftentimes you are your own worst critic. In hindsight, I can see that nobody was ever as frustrated with me as I was with myself. The most important part of an experience like this is to learn how to be confident in what you know and not afraid to ask for help with what you don’t. I think I wore out the phrase “This may be a stupid question but…” within my first couple of months, but the more I asked the more I learned.

Time management was my biggest learning experience. The idea of billing time to projects probably stressed me out more than anything else in the beginning.  It really makes you think about what is important to the project and where time should be allocated. In the beginning, project managers would give me an allotted amount of time to produce a drawing, and I was lucky if I could get half of it done during that time. Towards the end, those numbers seemed more and more reasonable. While it is nerve-racking at first learning to manage time like this, it was also a great thing to realize that your time is valuable, and someone is willing to pay for it – so you need to be a good steward of that time.

The most important aspect of RVi’s design mentality that I will carry back to Baton Rouge for my last year of school is the significance of the land in landscape architecture. At RVi, we’re taught to recognize the beauty of a native landscape and work to preserve it as much as possible. Through preservation of the most environmentally sensitive parts of the landscape and ensuring access to these natural areas, RVi creates communities that honor the land – and teach residents about its significance, too.

My time at RVi was both challenging and fun, and I’m sad to be leaving. I’ve met great people who are more than LinkedIn connections – they are people with whom I created strong working relationships. During my internship I was able to learn much more than I ever could have in eight months of school.  I got exposed to a variety of exciting landscape architecture and planning projects, and I am certain the knowledge I gained will stay with me throughout my career.