Since starting my job as a Part I Architectural Assistant at DLG I feel like time has flown by. It wasn’t only the start of my first ‘real’ job, but I had braved moving alone to London, all within weeks of leaving university. I hadn’t done any work experience at a practice beforehand so although I had spent 3 years studying architecture, I really didn’t know what to expect. Thankfully the popular stereotype of doing endless overtime and spending days only doing toilet plans are not true for me thus far!
Reflecting on my first few days, a lot of my time was spent familiarising myself with software programmes and generally learning how the office is run – which is a light-year away from the cardboard models and 3D renders I had spent so much time working on at architecture school. One aspect of the job that I didn’t expect to gain so much from is practice admin work, a few weeks in and I started learning more about the projects which were currently ongoing within the practice, as well as who was responsible for each one – and although I learnt this mostly through assisting with drawings and presentations, it was also through being able to talk on the phone, organise the database, and read through emails. I also found that doing work for the studio itself gives me a sense of teamwork and ownership. For instance, I was able to contribute towards our office move which happened shortly before Christmas. I was able to draw up the new layout as well as helping on the day of the move – one thing I’m sure not every Part I experiences on their placement year!
One of my favourite projects so far was when I was able to work on a small Grade II listed residential flat from start to finish. The only works involved were interior refits and window replacements, however I was able to directly liaise with the client and submitted my very first planning application which was approved first time! Being able to go to meetings and site visits has also been an invaluable experience for me as you aren’t often able to observe a live project first hand as a student. However, I feel as though my experience at DLG has affected more than just my day-to-day work.
I am lucky enough to spend my working hours with fantastic colleagues who are never too busy to help and advise when I’m unsure of something.
Within my second month of working, we put our minds together to enter the NLA housing competition which was launched as an ideas competition in order to solve the housing crises in London. We suggested integrating short-term ‘pod’ homes within empty high street units, and although our submission wasn’t shortlisted, I found it personally rewarding to brainstorm fun ideas as well as learn about the team.
Since then we have had lunchtime CPDs and the occasional after-work drinks, as well as a number of bigger social events such as a boat ride and picnic in Greenwich Park during the summer and a Christmas lunch in York where we met up with everyone from DLG’s Leeds office and we were surprised with a guided tour around a chocolate museum! Furthermore, in the next few months I am looking forward to working for a few days in the Leeds office; so there always seems to be something exciting to anticipate.
In 6 months I feel that I’ve started to develop a good perspective on what an architectural studio is like, although I believe that each one does vary, especially according to their size and general ethos. I find working at DLG especially rewarding as the London office is small- medium sized, so I have been able to observe and work closely on every job, and through this I’m learning so much more every day; There seems to be so much to learn it’s becoming apparent to me why the Part III qualification requires 24 months of work experience. As for how this has affected my opinion on the architectural profession, I’m very hopeful (although expecting some hard work ahead!).