MSA proudly welcomes largest intern group

At Michael Shilale Architects, educating the next generation is not only a privilege but a priority. This summer we are pleased to have our largest group of interns working with us at one time in Sean Powell, Justine Vance and Blake Helstein.

The intern program at MSA is designed to prepare our students to have a more realistic idea of an architect’s day to day work life. During their time here, each intern’s goal is to fill in the gaps from what they learned in school and truly put it into a real world perspective. The firm’s principal believes to be an architect, you’re required to have an understanding of a built environment, including building codes and waterproof structures. As the great architect Frank Lloyd Wright, an architect’s job is to keep people’s “feet warm and head dry”.

Each summer, MSA has at least one intern and their time at the firm is designed to ensure they work on a little bit of everything. From assisting other members on drawings and markup corrections that need to be done, to visiting project sites to measure, work with documentation and take photos our interns get hands-on experience with every aspect of an architecture’s world.

Here’s a brief intro to Sean, Justine and Blake and what they have learned and enjoyed so far during their internship.

Justine Vance
Justine started off interested in engineering but quickly discovered she enjoyed the design and architectural aspects of the field most and decided to switch focus to architecture. For Vance, the projects she’s worked on this summer have hit a more personal note, including installing new AC vents at Willow Grove Elementary (where she attended elementary school) and updating the North Rockland (her high school) press box, weight room and rooftop vents. Between going to the sites for work or in her own time visiting former teachers, Vance has really been able to see her work on paper come to life, something she values most about this internship opportunity. In addition, Vance has also gained experience with AutoCad, what goes into a project, all phases/building codes and she has even learned how to fold plans! After summer Vance returns to Maryland to finish her bachelor’s degree and then looks forward to grad school.

Favorite part of the internship – “Working on projects for the school district I attended and being able work on architectural drawings for the schools I went to as a kid.”
Favorite project – Haverstraw Elementary. “I got to see firsthand the cracks in their ceiling and was able to count the number of doors the building had. That’s something you don’t normally think about until working in Architecture.”

Sean Powell
Sean wanted to be an architect or a baseball player growing up. After ending his baseball career before high school, it was architecture from then on. He enrolled in the Hudson Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School (PTECH) program and through the program’s affiliation with MSA, Powell joined as a 2 week intern in the beginning of Summer 2021. To prepare for the internship, Powell completed several free tutorials to gain autocad experience and that, combined with his 14 day internship experience, Powell showed he was a valuable member of the team and was invited to stay on with the firm permanently.

Favorite part of the internship – “The site visits have been very eye opening and it's been fun working on building and seeing them progress in real time.”
Favorite project – Truck Washout at the Department of Public Works. “For the first time I was able to go into the field and take measurements and then convert them into AutoCAD drawings."

Blake Helstein
Blake has gotten involved in many projects, including the Farley Elementary uninvents and really enjoys seeing the projects come to life. Throughout the internship, Helstein has joked that he’s always learning something, even with the “sustainable strategies” posted around the office. Over the course of the summer, he has become so well versed with AutoCAD it’s become second nature. Helstein has worked on improving his measurements and going back to take things into account. After the summer, he heads back to Boston to continue his Masters of Architecture program at Northeastern College.