Class Is In Session: Enhancing the Emerging Professional Experience With HW University
All companies, in one capacity or another, rely on the dedication and resiliency of employees to succeed — a fact that is especially true in the AEC industry. Interdisciplinary architecture firms, like Hoefer Welker, work across multiple specialties with varying needs. This multifaceted business model requires experienced professionals to guide effective and long-lasting design.
Unfortunately, experience does not happen overnight. That’s why Hoefer Welker created HW University.
Building a Foundation of Experience
HW University is a development program designed to immerse emerging professionals in a relevant, inclusive learning environment. We understand that young professionals leave college with a wealth of knowledge but perhaps not significant experience applying it in the real world. To amplify that foundational training, we established a program in HW University that helps grow talent from within the firm.
HW University offers multiple tracks focused on the soft skills that might not be taught in school but are essential for a successful career.
HW University offers multiple tracks focused on the soft skills that might not be taught in school but are essential for a successful career. The current tracks are Emerging Professionals, Project Management, Sustainability, Leadership Development, and Design. These tracks teach employees vital skills that typically take years to develop through hands-on project experience. By presenting HW University participants with real-world challenges associated with actual project situations, employees are able to discuss potential solutions and learn how to apply the skills they’ve learned within a supportive environment.
“HW University is available to employees across all studios and roles,” said Bryce Cummings, a project architect and senior associate who is an active participant in HW University. “The program gives us the opportunity to get together, discuss our career goals, and learn how to develop others and ourselves.”
This cross-pollination within the firm means that all Hoefer Welker employees — from architects and designers to marketing and human resources professionals — can establish relationships and learn from each other.
“No matter your role in the company, everyone can benefit from this professional development training,” said Shannon Hush, a project architect and senior associate who participates in the program. “I have benefited from not only the training offered through HW University but also the mentorship and relationships we cultivate within the program.”
Ensuring a Culture of Collaboration and Curiosity
Mentorship and strong relationships have grown across departments as a result of HW University. Most companies with diversified services can quickly become siloed within specialties, and Hoefer Welker is no different. With so many disciplines and studios focusing on different markets and industries, it would be understandable for professionals to get tunnel vision. However, as a multidisciplinary firm, we strive to develop multidisciplinary professionals.
“I participated in the project management program, which focused on understanding the skills and responsibilities of a project manager,” said Hush. “The early exposure provided in HW University allows us to determine the career paths we want to pursue. For me, it solidified project management as my career goal.”
With so many disciplines and studios focusing on different markets and industries, it would be understandable for professionals to get tunnel vision. However, as a multidisciplinary firm, we strive to develop multidisciplinary professionals.
“Through the same program I discovered that project management is not my passion, but I did learn valuable skills on managing a team, clients and schedules,” said Cummings. “And I learned those fundamental skills from experts at our company.”
The collaboration and continuous improvement that HW University provides are all part of Hoefer Welker’s culture. We collaborate internally and with our clients, and we’re always striving to innovate and improve. That’s why we chose to create this program and why we consider it an ongoing evolution — constantly adding new courses, mentors and teaching approaches.
Learn More About How to Learn More
At Hoefer Welker, we believe that employees who invest their time and energy now will benefit in the future — and we are dedicated to helping them. Our employees are our greatest strength. We want to help them develop the skills required for long-term career success and empower them to pass on that knowledge.
Our employees are our greatest strength.
“I’ve benefited from having outstanding mentors through HW University, and now I’m trying to step into that mentorship role myself,” said Cummings. “I’m enjoying being on the other side.”
“HW University has helped me learn what skills to focus on,” said Hush. “I’ve learned a lot about myself and which direction I want to move in my career. And it’s taught me how to get there.