Finding a year out placement is proving to be more difficult that first envisaged. Practices seek to interview potential employees, but then wait until the work is in, providing them with a wide variety of choice, but leaving prospective students waiting indefinitely. I have attended countless interviews, only to return home having no idea when a decision might be made. This problem isn’t that of the companies, more just the bad luck current architectural student’s have in graduating into a difficult period. The practices themselves cannot afford to risk the employment of people without security of work and pay. So we simply have to persevere and wait until the time is right.
What is one to do? Knowing that work is not readily available we have to adapt to the current environment. If nothing is happening, make it. Look to competitions online for student entries, use your knowledge of the architectural field and branch out. Employer’s look for people who have expanded out of their original limits, and ventured further a field to different areas of work that still relate to the profession. Design is a humungous area, with architecture just a small percentage. Graphic design is heavily apparent in Architecture, working with that will only benefit you.
RIBA have adjusted their guidelines to allow for the disposition we find ourselves in. Although an architectural placement is preferred, you can branch out while staying under the bracket of year out experience. Work on a construction site is allowed, as is work in a planning office. If you are thinking of working in these areas double check with whomever you are doing your PEDR with, as they have the final say.
Through the contact of a friend and a boredom of no success, I managed to get work as an intern at an international architectural magazine down in London. Unpaid, and only a sofa promised for a short period, I decided to move down simply to escape the trap of finding work in an environment of little work. 3 days a week, 10 – 6, the job was different to say the least. Although an architect’s magazine, the work was far from it.
Publishing is an interesting profession. The experience I gained while there was more than useful. It wasn’t architectural, rather administrative work. Except architect’s work in that environment, to be able to fit right in at a company is tremendously beneficial. I also learnt that just asking can get you along way. So much is available to those who ask. What I received always varied, but it still was something. It showed me that you can achieve anything at any scale; you just have to be in the right place at the right time.
I have now got a job, at a new practice in Manchester. I start soon, and although I am glad to be out of the internship and London, it was still a critical tipping point to my architectural career. The people I met, and the contacts made will always be available to me. I also would never have got this job if I hadn’t been down there. Finding work is difficult, and the unknowing prospects of it are a pain to deal with it, but learn to turn it on its head and use that spare time to accomplish other things.
by Jack Penford Baker