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Mentorship Builds a Future Leader in Construction

Fri Feb 2, 2018 at 10:08 AM

Alex Alvarez in front of the The Gaines Group Architects signBlue Ridge student Alex Alvarez might design your dream home one day. The 2016 Spotswood grad just completed a successful job shadowing/mentorship at The Gaines Group, an architectural firm with offices in Harrisonburg and Charlottesville. His mentor, Charles Hendricks, recommends this type of internship for all students as a great way to learn about any industry from the inside.

“Job shadowing helps them figure out how the industry works and lets them see what they’re passionate about,” he says. “It gives them exposure to make good decisions about their career path. People who are passionate about it will seek internship opportunities.”

Alex spent several hours each week at the firm for about a year, learning several design software programs, to complete projects like a house, a garage (for his dad), and even an indoor soccer complex (for his brother).

“I learned AutoCAD, Sketchup, renderings, detail sections, Photoshop, and many more skills,” Alex says. He says he was surprised to learn how much things like building codes affect the design process. “Not everything is about design. You have to know the building codes, like how wide a door can be, for example. It has to work in the real world.”

Alex’s educational goals are to finish here at BRCC, transfer to Virginia Tech in the Bachelor of Science in Building Construction program, and ultimately pursue a graduate degree in architecture. In the near future, Alex has a job lined up with Venture Builders as a framer. It will be much more physical labor than the internship, but it will give him a chance to see a design project come to fruition “in the real world.”

Read Alex’s blog post about his experiences at The Gaines Group.