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Student Career Spotlight: Q&A with Dale Potter, an IPS Student Learning New Skills

Indianapolis Public Schools is proud of its students preparing for their careers after high school. We have created the Student Career Spotlight to showcase students participating in the IPS Workforce and Career Development project. 

As part of the district’s Rebuilding Stronger initiative, aimed at upgrading school facilities across IPS over the next several years, the IPS Workforce and Career Development project is preparing students for success in the professional world. This program offers hands-on experience in architecture, engineering, and construction, empowering students to tackle real-world challenges.

Through engaging Q&A sessions, these students will share their transformative experiences found at area firms while job shadowing, being an intern or apprentice. From practical skills acquisition to navigating industry complexities, the students will provide firsthand insights into the impact of immersive learning.

Dale Potter, a senior at Shortridge High School, recently spent time job shadowing at CSO, an Indianapolis-based architectural firm.  

Q—Why did you want a job shadow?

A–My decision to shadow at CSO was driven by a long-standing fascination with architecture, and my desire to confirm whether it was the right career for me. Following a day spent observing the professionals at work, I am pleased to report that I have found my calling. 

Q—What specific career or industry are you interested in exploring through job shadowing?

A—Pursuing a career in architecture is now a definite goal for my future. In anticipation of my job shadowing experience, I conducted thorough research to ensure that I was adequately prepared for the task at hand. Specifically, I visited the website of CSO, the organization in question, to investigate their past projects and current initiatives. Additionally, I undertook a comprehensive review of the websites and programs utilized by the organization to facilitate its design work. 

Q—What did you learn about the day-to-day responsibilities of professionals in the field during your job shadowing experience?

A—When I arrived at the CSO office, my initial expectation was that I would encounter a setting in which workers were engaged in solitary screen-based activity. This perception had been a source of hesitation in my decision to pursue a career in architecture. During my time in the shadows, I gained a keen appreciation for the realities of day-to-day life as an architect. 

Q—What stood out while you were job shadowing? 

A–Beyond the design phase, it is critical to ensure that the buildings we envision are constructed to the highest standards of quality and safety. This responsibility necessitates frequent visits to job sites and close collaboration with engineers to ensure that the feasibility of the design is upheld throughout the construction process. It dawned on me that the role of an architect extends far beyond the initial design phase, encompassing a wide array of responsibilities that require a diverse skill set. 

Q—What insights did you gain about the skills and qualifications required for careers in the field you shadowed?

A—During my shadow, I gained valuable competencies in website proficiency and drafting legible building plans for contractors. Through my job shadow experience at CSO, I have gained valuable insights and knowledge that have steered me towards a career in architecture. 

Q—How do you plan to use the knowledge and experience gained from the job shadowing opportunity in your future career exploration and decision-making process?

A—I am determined to take all the necessary steps to ensure that I achieve my goal of obtaining a master’s degree and licensing in architecture. Furthermore, I aspire to establish my architecture firm that champions the fight against gentrification through my experience and education at college.