Bringing Design Awareness to Teens Outside of Boston

Bringing Design Awareness to Teens Outside of Boston

As part of its mission to increase the number of minorities within the architecture profession, the Racial Equity and Diversity (RED) Committee at HMFH prioritizes outreach to high school students in communities where there may be less awareness of architecture as a potential career path.

Last month, several RED Committee members visited career fairs throughout the Greater Boston area, meeting with dozens of students face-to-face to share information about the wide range of career opportunities available in the AEC industry.

Existing Programs Introduce Careers in Architecture to High School Students—But Remain Inaccessible to All

Reaching public school students outside of Boston proper is a main focus for the HMFH RED Committee as there continues to be limited opportunity awareness among this population. In an effort to combat this inequity, the Boston Society for Architecture and the Boston Private Industry Council have co-organized programs to introduce architecture as a career path for teenagers attending Boston Public Schools (BPS). HMFH is proud to be a long-time participant in these events, including the BSA- and BPIC-hosted Architecture/Design Thinking Week, a four-day workshop where public school students can learn about the architecture field from local working architects, engage in activities like drawing and model-making, and seek inspiration and guidance to pursue their growing interests in architecture.

But while these programs provide excellent content, only students attending public schools within Boston’s city limits can participate.

HMFH RED Committee Meets Students Where They Are with New Career Fair Initiative

To expand awareness of architecture as a profession and reach students who live outside of Boston proper, the RED Committee has launched an initiative across Massachusetts, working with public high school counselors and nonprofit organizers to visit career fairs around the state and connect with students about career opportunities in architecture.

High school career fairs have a well-established presence in communities throughout the Commonwealth. Every year, representatives from different employers, colleges, and universities come together to transform schools’ gymnasiums, cafeterias, and other gathering spaces into dedicated centers for students’ professional advancement. Here, students who are just beginning to consider their potential future career paths can ask questions, watch presentations, mingle with professionals, and otherwise seek guidance and mentorship as they embark on their adult lives.

Showcasing Architecture as a Career Path

This spring, HMFH was proud to be the first architecture firm to present at career fairs in Lynn and Chelsea, joining representatives from long-standing traditional career paths, like banks, law firms, police departments, and fire departments.

At each fair, the HMFH tables were stacked with technology and models, a particularly eye-catching display for the many students who had never before considered architecture as a profession. Their questions were plentiful, diverse, and often surprising, demonstrating a high degree of insight and curiosity.

One student asked, “What personal traits should someone have if they want to study architecture?” Others followed with more tactical concerns, like “Where do I start if I want to study architecture?” or “How do I get my foot in the door?”

For most students, this was their first opportunity to have face-to-face conversations with design professionals about what it’s like to work in the industry and discover the many adjacent career pathways available in the larger AEC industry, e.g., interior design, art, history, science, real estate, construction, etc.

Finally, to help students better visualize the many opportunities for a career in architecture and give them a launching pad from which to begin their journeys, the RED Committee gave every interested student brochures highlighting different HMFH projects, a diagram illustrating how to become an architect, and a list of resources to discover local schools, available scholarships, and other key information about pursuing a career in architecture.

An Office-Wide Commitment to Mentorship

The HMFH RED Committee comprises 13 staff members whose experience levels range from firm principal to recent graduate. Their work participating in high school career fairs and presenting career opportunities in architecture to traditionally underserved communities is just one effort in their broader push to inspire the next generation of AEC professionals—especially those in minority communities.

This year’s career fair initiatives were led by the RED Committee, but the commitment to educating and inspiring young adults is shared office-wide. Outside of its work at high school career fairs, the larger HMFH community continues to participate in other programs that serve to stimulate students’ interest in architecture as a career path. For example, HMFH regularly hosts students for summer internship programs and led a session at the BSA’s Design Thinking Week this spring.

To date, the HMFH RED Committee has presented at Lynn English High School, Chelsea High School, Everett High School, and Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, reaching thousands of high school students. RED Committee members also recently attended a career fair at the Reggie Lewis Center, sponsored by Breakthrough Greater Boston, a nonprofit whose mission is to inspire excitement for learning, create paths to and through college, and promote careers in education.

HMFH looks forward to continuing its school outreach to meet, inspire, educate, and support students on their burgeoning career paths in architecture.