For the third summer in a row, Mahlander’s is fortunate to have a talented intern from the South Dakota State University School of Design join our staff as an intern. We are excited to have Akeela Jefferson aboard and want you to meet her. So, without further ado …
Hailing from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Akeela recently completed the Interior Design program but hopes to continue her studies (in architecture) and tenure on the SDSU volleyball team again this fall.
Besides her love (and immense talent for!) volleyball, Akeela’s other passion is design. Much like she powers a volleyball over the net, this internship – focusing intently on lighting and its uses and applications – propels Akeela toward her goal of a successful design and/or architecture career with a focus on lighting.
Akeela heard about the Mahlander’s internship opportunity from several of her classmates. They’d spent their summers working in the showroom and enjoyed it, so she decided to apply.
“I wanted to work for Mahlander’s because of the welcoming and friendly environment,” she says. “Another reason I chose Mahlander’s is because I think that lighting is one of the most important aspects of interior spaces, and I would love to further my lighting design skills.”
Not one to shy away from goals, that’s precisely what Akeela is doing. Besides an intensive study of lighting, the other aspect of working at Mahlander’s Akeela will experience is lots of interaction with customers – and that’s difficult to simulate in a classroom situation. Real-life experience with actual customers working on actual projects is a wonderful learning opportunity, and is a favorite part of her days in the showroom.
“My favorite part so far has been working with clients and listening to their vision and ideas so that we can come up with a beautiful design solution,” she says, echoing our previous interns who have also cited bringing clients’ ideas to life as one of the most rewarding facets of their time at Mahlander’s.
She accompanied Sales Manager Rosie Kindt to a jobsite, a trip that proved both fun and educational. By visiting a working construction site Akeela was able to see all the (many!) moving parts of a home build in progress and how important the lighting schematic is to the final outcome.
“Something that has surprised me working at Mahlander’s are the little details that you have to consider and how much thought and time goes into good lighting design,” she says, indicating the level of attention such projects require.
Though she appreciates many aesthetics, Akeela is drawn to designs with a Scandinavian influence.
“My go-to style is Scandinavian because I love the simplicity and natural materials. Scandinavian is modern yet still elegant and timeless,” she says. “I love fixtures with wood accents and of course big, pretty chandeliers.”
As with any worthwhile educational pursuit, not everything about this experience has been familiar or predictable for Akeela. She’s spent time learning about the business aspects of the showroom as well as design, and that’s new territory for her.
She has also taken an interest in the appliance side of the Mahlander’s showroom; after all, appliances are a key component of kitchen design. She even took a trip to our General Electric distributor’s, Northern Plain Distributing, headquarters in Fargo, North Dakota, to see where many of the ranges, fridges, washers, dryers, etc. that end up on Mahlander’s sales floor or in customers’ homes come from.
When she’s not working or playing volleyball, Akeela enjoys traveling and spending time with friends. In the summertime, outdoor activities like boating and swimming are on her list of favorite ways to spend a day off.
Akeela provides a set of fresh eyes on the showroom, merchandise displays, marketing endeavors and client projects. She’s been working with veteran Lighting Consultants and learning from their years of expertise and experience. We think it’s a mutually beneficial set-up, with everyone learning new things!
Stop in to meet this designer-to-be and see what’s new … Come, see what’s inside!