Embracing the Architectural Journey: Insights from Stephen Drew and Will Ridgeway
The path to becoming a proficient architect is paved with challenges, learning experiences, and a plethora of opportunities. Recently, on the Architecture Social webinar, Stephen Drew and Will Ridgeway shared invaluable insights into starting a new job in an architectural practice, a topic of great interest to both students and seasoned professionals in the field.
Navigating the First Day: More Than Just Architecture
Starting a new job in architecture is more than just about buildings; it's about integrating into a culture, a team, and an environment that is often a unique blend of creativity and technicality. The first day is crucial, and Stephen emphasizes the importance of making a positive impression, not just through social interactions but also in terms of preparedness and professionalism.
Will Ridgeway brings a practical perspective, focusing on the tangible elements one should bring to the first day, such as a passport for identification, bank details for payroll setup, and perhaps even a P45 form from a previous job. It's about being ready for both the expected and the unexpected.
The Software and the Suit: A Dual Preparedness
Stephen articulates the importance of understanding the software used by the practice, emphasizing the need to be updated and ready to use these tools effectively. He jokes about not wanting to be the person constantly asking Jeff, a hypothetical colleague, for help with basic functions.
Simultaneously, Stephen talks about the significance of dressing appropriately. His advice extends beyond simply wearing a suit; it's about adapting to the office culture while maintaining professionalism. He humorously reminisces about his early days, gradually transitioning from a suit to more casual, yet professional attire, finding a balance that fits the architectural practice's environment.
Building Relationships and Learning on the Job
Both Stephen and Will highlight the importance of building relationships with colleagues, particularly for newcomers such as Part 1 employees. These initial connections can lead to lifelong professional networks and friendships. Stephen shares his own experiences, stressing the value of lunchtime conversations and the shared experiences with other new starters.
Will reinforces this idea, noting the significance of understanding the role and managing expectations. For Part 1 employees, it’s as much about learning and absorbing information as it is about actual design work. The key is to contribute ideas when appropriate and seek guidance when necessary.
Embracing Digital and Physical Realities in the Architectural World
In today’s hybrid working environment, Stephen and Will address the nuances of starting a job both digitally and physically. They advise ensuring a proper home setup for remote work, including a reliable internet connection, a good webcam, and a quiet workspace. For physical office days, they suggest being adaptable and ready to engage in person, whether it’s wearing a mask in the current health climate or being ready to visit sites at short notice.
The Ongoing Journey: Continuous Learning and Adaptation
Stephen reflects on his journey, sharing a personal anecdote about focusing too much on his strengths in visualization during his Part 1, and somewhat neglecting technical detailing. This experience taught him the importance of being an all-rounder in architecture. He encourages newcomers to push their boundaries, learn from mistakes, and continually seek to improve in areas where they feel less confident.
Final Thoughts: The Community and Your Place in It
The webinar concludes with a call to action for all architectural professionals and students: to be active in their communities, whether it's in their own practice, online platforms like the Architecture Social, or through interactions with peers. This sense of community and shared learning is what drives the industry forward.