Expert advice: Hyphen team shares top tips for architecture students
Many students will soon enrol on university courses to take their first steps towards a rewarding career in the field of architecture and building design. This can seem daunting, as any new challenge can be. You may wonder how to make the most of your time at university and how to take advantage of the many extra-curricular opportunities available. At Hyphen we understand how you might feel, as many of us have taken a similar journey.
We invited our team of professionals to reflect on their own experiences and ask what they wished they had known towards the start of their career journey. Read a selection of Hyphen’s top tips for students below.
Danny Atkinson, Architectural Assistant, London:
“Whilst you’re at university you should look for what you’re passionate about in architecture and follow those passions as far as you can using the resources and people you have around you. Don’t worry too much about what tutors expect of you. If you believe in your own work and have done enough to back it up, no one can question it. You’ll have enough time in practice to do what clients expect of you – so use this time to do what you want to do not what someone else wants you to do. It took me till my 5th year to work this out, and I wish I’d followed my own path a lot sooner because I was a lot happier and less stressed for it.”
Katja Gursch, Architect, Berlin:
“Get as much experience as you can working in architectural offices during your studies. It is also important to make the most of your experience at university by joining student societies and learning from academic staff. Ask your teachers what their biggest mistakes were in their careers and learn from them. Ultimately, love what you do or find out what you love.”
Billy Cross, Architectural Technologist, Winchester:
“Do not doubt your own capabilities but recognise areas for improvement. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses, and you are not expected to know or to be good at everything. And it is a willingness to learn and advance that is appreciated. There are always opportunities to work on your weaknesses, and it is important to acknowledge these at the start so you can define a clear path for yourself to employers.
“Focus on how things are built. It sounds simple, but a general understanding of both traditional and modern building techniques helps to strongly reinforce a concept.”
Eva Diego García, Director, Madrid:
“Design in real life is all about achieving exciting results with the tools you have, including budget, deadlines and quality. I would recommend that students gain more insight into the business aspects of being an architect. Training is much more focused on the creative side, and when you start work you realise that there is a whole other side of the profession that is essential to the job. Having work experience as a student made me much more passionate about architecture. You get a glimpse of what being an architect is like and it is really motivating.”
Arjun Uppal, Project Runner/Architect, Paris:
“As architecture graduates, we rarely have a real picture of the profession before we are cast out in the real world. I had the honour of being a visiting lecturer in an architecture school in India and I would tell my students to start building castles in the sky, then on paper and finally on site. An architect should never give up on creativity, but learn to mould it into your client’s ambitions and create a metamorphosis. Architecture is imagination. If you cannot imagine your client in the buildings you are designing, you are probably in the wrong profession.”
Sarah Fox, Chief Operating Officer:
“I have seen that, in general, the key strengths that are common to architecture students are inspiration and creativity. The ability to innovate and transform ideas into tangible designs does not necessarily replicate automatically across other critical business functions. Successful architects are not necessarily fully competent business leaders. The skills needed for an architect to one day become a leader of their own design team or their own architectural practice have to be learned.
“My advice to students is to think and plan ahead. If you want to progress in your career, learn the difference between leadership and management early on. Develop good communication skills and understand what critical business functions are and what they do. When you join a practice, talk to everyone, whatever their role, and value them equally.”
Laura Vatteroni, Architect, Milan:
“Don’t be afraid to ask – people in architecture are usually happy to share their knowledge. Learn how to work in a group – it’s what you will do on a daily basis. Keep a good work-life balance – for most people architecture is not just a job, it’s a passion. It can be stressful, so make sure you take time to relax and recharge outside of work. This profession may not make you rich, but if you have passion for it, it will make you happy.”
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- architectural advice
- expert advice
- top tips