Matt did work experience with a property developer during university which paid off as he is now an architectural assistant with the same company.
In my second year I found a job working for a property developer on the university careers website and was employed on an ad hoc basis doing drawing and analysis one or two days a week. I carried on doing the job during term time until I graduated and spent my summers working abroad to broaden my experience.
When I graduated in 2008 there were very few architecture jobs around as the credit crunch was beginning to bite, but luckily I could still work one or two days a week for the property developer I worked with while I was a student. I combined this with a part-time gardening job to keep me going while I continued to apply for full-time work.
Eventually the property company decided to take me on full-time and I joined the team as a permanent member of staff in 2009 and have been there ever since. I’m currently working on some big projects in London and working for a developer means I get to see how all the different aspects of construction fit together, which I feel is great experience.
I’m involved in all aspects of the design and construction phases including: spatial analysis; cost analysis; environmental analysis and procurement. I also research building products and methods and am responsible for information management.
I work for a small company so I am able to contribute to decisions and I work closely with the more senior members of staff who are driving the projects forward (e.g. the company directors, construction managers, and third party consultants such as architects and engineers). I also get to design features that I wouldn’t get to work on if I worked for a larger company.
The only problem with working for a small company is that I have to do a lot of the administrative work myself, but I think that comes with the territory of being one of the younger members of staff.
I would like to stay in the same company until some of the projects are finished so I can say I have experience seeing a project through from beginning to end. After that I would like to go back to university and do a postgraduate qualification so I can register to become an architect. Once I’ve qualified I’ll probably work in an architecture practice for a few years before setting up my own business.
I think students who are just about to graduate should not worry too much about what they end up doing for their first role and just try their hardest to be enthusiastic about the company they are working for. I think you are unlikely to get exactly what you want out of your first (or even second or third) job; you just have to make the most of the experience and see it as a chance to learn and grow!
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