A Day in the Life of an Oculus Intern
Ruoxiao Zeng is our student intern this year, and we feel lucky to have her here for the summer season before she goes back to her busy school schedule studying for a Master’s in Building Science at the University of Southern California! We asked her a few questions about her background, experience so far at Oculus, and why she has a general interest in lighting. We hope that after her internship she will consider a career as a lighting designer.
Why did you become interested in lighting design?
I joined Oculus this summer as an intern. I have two bachelor degrees in architecture, one is in China, another one is in the U.K. Now I’m studying Building Science at USC for my Master Degree. When I was at my undergraduate school, I became interested in using light and shadow to create a special atmosphere in architecture design. Lighting can help to achieve a very interesting space. Last semester, I took a lighting class at USC and learned more about lighting design and felt I wanted to start working in the lighting industry.
Describe what you do as an intern at Oculus Light Studio?
I do all kinds of work to help people in my office, both marketing-related and technical. I contact reps for pricing and fixture returns. I also prepare budgets, submittal reviews, schematic design set editing, digital model making and calculations. Apart from that, I also visit sites with senior designers to learn how the lighting we designed looks like in person and its effect on the space. The marketing related work is not technically difficult, but I try to be very careful and organized to avoid mistakes. The technical work I do here is not as difficult as that I did at school because I am not a designer. I only need to help a designer to do it. The work also requires me to be careful to avoid mistakes.
Generally, we have lunch presentation 2-3 times a week, the speakers are usually reps and manufactures. They introduce the new products to us and I take some pictures of the interesting fixtures. Normally, we have lunch presentation given by staff on Friday. However, because of the World Cup, the lunch presentation time is sometimes changed into watching the soccer ball game!
What have you learned so far about what it is to be a professional lighting designer?
So far, I’ve found that there is still a long way to go to become a professional lighting designer. First, experience is important for a professional lighting designer. They should know at least the general rules for lighting design. For example, they should be able to estimate the quantity and type of lighting fixtures for a certain size room. They have to be familiar with different fixtures produced by different manufactures and remember their reps. There are also many regulations about lighting design of a project in different places. A lighting designer also needs good communication skills to make sure the ideas are transferred correctly and efficiently both within the office and between different firms.
How has it been working alongside the designers and principals?
People here are friendly and patient. For example, Likhitha, a new comer sits next to me, and is always patient when answering my questions. She has been working at Oculus for only 9 months, but she has already learned a lot. Her main job as a Jr. Lighting Designer is to assist on large-scale projects. The principals of the firm are also friendly to the staff and they can always provide good ideas for the design based on their experience. We also have a special friend, Yoshi, a cute dog of a colleague. He stays with us almost everyday and serves as a door bell when someone comes in.
What is your favorite memory since you have been here?
There are too many good memories here as there are many first-time things. For example, the first time to go to a job field, the first time to listen to a lunch presentation, the first time to attend a reward event, the first time to learn to do budget and control schedules, the first time to design a mug for a firm and the first time to have a dog in the office. Also, the first time to get salary. It’s really hard to tell which one is my favorite as there are too many exciting things happening.