DBI is pleased to have served as a career exploration site for Austrian high schooler Jennifer Zhang, who visited the Washington, DC region in October as a participant in the George C. Marshall International Center’s Student Partnership Exchange Program (SPEP).  The Marshall Center, based in Leesburg, Virginia, organizes the program in an effort to cultivate global understanding by providing high school and college students with the opportunity to experience foreign cultures and countries.  The program celebrates the humanitarian spirit exemplified by Marshall’s European Recovery Program (the Marshall Plan), which orchestrated the economic revitalization of Europe after World War II and earned Marshall the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.  Like the Marshall Plan, SPEP seeks to “strengthen the relationships between Europe and the United States” by engaging exchange students in an 8-day career exploration based on their individual interests and experience, as well as in activities that impart the host country’s history and heritage.

Having enjoyed her previous travels to China, France, and San Francisco, the outgoing and adventuresome 17-year-old eagerly applied to participate in SPEP and requested that her career exploration be in the architecture and interior design field.  DBI, eager to continue its involvement with SPEP, was excited to introduce Jennifer to the industry.  During her week at DBI, Jennifer met with several staff members, who provided overviews of the firm’s architecture and interiors projects, as well as its branding and marketing services, and included her in several project meetings and scheduled firm activities.  Of her time at DBI, Jennifer writes:

The 5 days that I spent in the DBI office flew by so fast…. Right from the first day, I felt so welcomed, and everyone was so kind and eager to show me their work.  I got a really good overview of the working area, whether…about interior design, architecture, graphic design, marketing, or the planning progress.  I was included in meetings [and] presentations and taken to construction sites, which were all really fascinating and fun for me.  However, what I liked most during my internship was to see how passionate all the people here are about their work.  Having been able to see both the working area itself and people who really enjoy what they do definitely encouraged me in my decision to study architecture next year.

DBI thanks the Marshall Center for the opportunity to be a part of SPEP and to foster interest in the profession of architecture while promoting the international exchange of ideas.


From left to right: Ashley James (Intern), Jennifer Zhang (Exchange Student), Gina Milatzo (Intern), Charlene Fowler (Interior Designer), Leslie Davis (Project Manager), Mandy Blumenauer (Project Manager)