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'One week in the industry gave me the clarity I needed'

During lockdown Heather took on a virtual work experience placement at an architecture firm in London.

Though lockdown meant I wasn’t able to meet up with my mentor Hannah for over six months (we kept in contact through Zoom and email) it was actually quite beneficial for my work experience. I was able to do a virtual placement with Sarah Wigglesworth Architects (SWA) in London. In previous years they have recruited students from the nearby area, so I wouldn’t have been put forward.

I began the week by sitting in on SWA’s Monday morning meeting where I learned all about their projects. This was fantastic because I was able to understand the ethos of the company in more depth. Afterwards, I was given my brief for the week.

I was asked to design a changing and shower facility for the staff at SWA. I had a specific location to work with and I also did a client interview, where I was able to ask questions about what the user would like included and any necessities that were required.

As the week progressed the user interview became the focus of my project, as I intended to make my client fully satisfied with the final result. I had regular design reviews in the week where I would sit down with one of the architects from the office to discuss my progress, and for them to suggest any improvements. I found these very helpful and insightful into an architects’ way of thinking. At the end of the week, I presented my project to the whole SWA office. Leading up to this I was quite nervous but once I started my passion for the project overwhelmed my senses and I was able to speak confidently and clearly about this exciting venture.

From start to finish, I was constantly learning how to approach new concepts and how to take my ideas to the next level. The design reviews were amazing as the architects gave me advice and shared their opinions, which then aided me in improving my design work. As well as completing the project, I was also able to listen in on some university students ask the architects questions about SWA. I found this extremely beneficial because I was able to envision myself in a few years’ time, in a similar position to the architecture students.

Before my work experience, I was a little unsure if architecture would be suited to my abilities. However, one week within the industry gave me the clarity that I needed, to prove that I would be capable of studying architecture at university.

I would say that the confidence, passion and belief that I discovered within myself is the main thing that I took away from the week.

After my placement I was no longer afraid to go to university to study a whole new subject, I was ready to embrace architecture and fully immerse myself in everything that the subject has to offer. Significantly, I would say to anyone given the opportunity of work experience, to go for it! Enjoy every moment because it could alter your view towards a career that you never envisioned for yourself.