“This externship gave me a new perspective on architecture because it exposed me to the processes that take place in the relocation of a business to the Lehigh Valley, incentives to encourage businesses to locate to brownfield sites, and the various other steps that foster the environment for businesses long before the architect comes into the picture,” says Kristian Smith ’13 (Washington, D.C.), who has a self-designed major of urban design and a minor in architectural studies.
During his externship over January break, Smith shadowed Pete Reinke ’85, vice president of business development for the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC).
“I got to sit in on meetings, do a site visit to a business working in child services, and see a meeting of the Lehigh Valley Recycling Initiative,” says Smith. “In addition, I had the chance to interview several staff members about their job responsibilities.”
Reinke calls his work at LVEDC his “dream job.”
“I do business with the private sector while building local community connections. Everyday something is different,” he says. “LVEDC deals with large companies down to entrepreneurial businesses and addresses issues from minority and women’s health to business retention. As a result, I get involved and oversee projects that touch upon numerous important issues for the Lehigh Valley.”
Smith observed this diversity in work and projects during the four days he spent shadowing Reinke.
“There was never a dull moment and it was always interesting,” he says. “I learned everything from the stages of planning a state-wide conference to the steps to brownfield restoration, to how businesses can access state government programs to provide incentives for development and job creation.”
Although there are no architects on staff at LVEDC, Reinke was able to put Smith in touch with colleagues in the field and help him develop potential connections. Reinke, who served as an assistant men’s basketball coach at Lafayette for five years, thinks it is important for students, alumni, and members of the local community to get involved in externships and internships.
“I believe this is a wonderful program that the College is doing. There are a lot of people who would love to share knowledge with students and to help out,” says Reinke.
Smith enjoyed the experience because it opened his eyes to new career options. “In addition to becoming an architect or urban designer, it exposed me to the possibility of working for an economic development corporation.”
After he graduates, Smith, a Posse Scholar who serves as the treasurer for the Hispanic Society of Lafayette and the vice president of QuEST (Questioning Established Sexual Taboos), hopes to work for an architectural firm or for a government agency dealing with transportation or urban design issues. He also sees graduate school in his future.