Principal and Founder of Atelier Cho Thompson
Yali High School, 2004-2006
Originally published August 2017
Where do you currently work and what does your job entail?
I work at Atelier Cho Thompson, a design and concept firm I founded with a partner. We work between architecture, interior design, graphic design, and strategy.
Did you consider graduate school over the Fellowship? If so, why did you choose the Fellowship?
I always planned to take a couple years off from design before attending architecture school. This time helped me clarify what I wanted in a graduate program. I also knew that once I went to grad school, I would work in architecture so this was an opportunity to do something completely different in a new part of the world! During my time in the Fellowship, I put together my portfolio and application, and I started at the Harvard Graduate School of Design when I returned to the U.S. I lived in a house in Cambridge with two other returning Fellows, one was doing a PhD in Political Science at MIT and one doing a Masters in Education at Harvard.
Do you see the Fellowship in your life today? If yes, how so?
I definitely see the effects of the Fellowship on my life today, even though I don’t do any professional work in China. My co-fellows from Yali are like my brothers and sisters. It’s a remarkable experience to spend such an intensive time with a group of people, living and working together, going on great adventures, and learning the craft of teaching. I always tell people that the greatest lasting impact of being at yale is getting to know the incredible students around you, and the Fellowship is a chance to extend that remarkable period of your life and spend it with an incredible group of Fellows. Fellows go on to be global leaders in their fields; each bringing some aspect of our Yale-China experience to fields like medicine, technology, art, and social justice. Among my Yali cohort members are founders of high-impact social entrepreneurship startups, lawyers working on civil rights, doctors, physicists, and professors.
What would you say to a graduate nervous about teaching?
Teaching is made up of skills that will serve you well in whatever field you choose to pursue. You will learn to communicate complex ideas in a clear way and how to lead and engage groups of people. Yale-China did a great job of preparing us to go into the field, and with a two-year commitment, you have the resources of senior Fellows to guide you in your early days.
Would you recommend this experience to Yale students and alumni?
Yes, without question. My time with Yale-China has been among the best years of my life. Living in China enriched my work as an architect, and the Fellowship gave me friendships that will last a lifetime.