Boosting Your Skills as an Architecture Student
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Skills You Learn in Architecture School
Once graduating, you will soon realise how valuable having arange of skills is. It doesn’t have to be specifically software or even architecture-relatedbut something that may be valuable in any kind of workplace. Now, the type ofskills you learn whilst at university will depend on your teachers, workloadand other resources available to you so we can’t speak for every university. Overall,there does seem to be a lack of opportunities and just a general knowledge ofskills employers will be looking for.
It may not be obvious to you which kind of skills you have while you’re studying so it might be a good idea to sit down and have a think. First, think about computer skills you have such as Adobe programs, 3D modelling software and anything else. If you don’t know where to start, take some advice from your tutors or those in the year above on what to start learning. Usually, Sketchup is well recognised by many people. There are no difficult commands to memorise or lack of tutorials, you can find almost everything online on YouTube. If you’re struggling with Adobe programs, have a look at our ‘Getting Started’ Series. These programs are essential to learn if you want your work to stand out.
What you need to learn, depends on the kind of role you want after you graduate. Currently, by personal experience, there is a large amount of roles that require knowledge of Vectorworks, Rhino or Revit. These aren’t extremely hard software to learn and you might already be using it in your work anyway. In that case, you might be good to go.
Other skills like hand-drawing, model making, andarchitectural photography can also prove to be valuable. It might allow you tolean towards a skill that you can work on and showcase in your portfolio as astrong area of your work. But not all your skills have to be architecturerelated. There are many more routes and skills you can work on in your sparetime that won’t take too long and will open up new possibilities for you.
Some skills might include organisation, time-management orother attributes like punctuality and professionalism. You would be surprisedhow many students don’t take this as seriously as they should. Leaving thingsto the last minute is pretty much a standard for architects because of the workload,but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you plan your time carefully and prioritiseyour tasks, it should all work out.
The architecture work experience scene is rather timid, unless you have connections and you know people, or you just manage to get lucky really. If you do end up working or interning somewhere even if it’s just for a week, it can be extremely helpful when you graduate. If you’re struggling to get architecture-related experience, try and get some kind of work experience that can relate to some of the skills you learn in architecture. Usually students go for retail jobs because they are easier to apply and get hired for. The best place to look would be on job boards like Indeed and search for something like ‘Graphic Design Assistant’ or something along the lines of whichever skill you want to build.
Ask around for work experience and network. Ask your tutorswho might know of firms or work in firms where they may be able to help you getsome experience. A good thing to do before you start will be to ask theemployer if there is anything you can work on or get familiar with beforestarting. This shows you’re taking initiative and you know what to work on sowhen you start and therefore you’ll be less nervous or panicky because you don’tknow something. Of course, you will also have to be prepared to devote timetowards whichever work you decide to take up so frankly, the easiest part isapplying, the hardest bit will be being able to manage your time well.
Skills to Build
Now you must be wondering, what kind of part-time jobs orhobbies can I take up to boost my skillset? We’ve got a small list below, but it’snot limited in any way. Each of these skills can lead to a job or even abusiness of your own. Remember, the knowledge you get from learning thingswhilst studying architecture is just the first step. Applying these to jobs, workexperience or just as a hobby can turn into something requiring a lot of hardwork that could pay off in some way in the future.
3D Modelling – product design, Lasercut products, animation, architectural rendering
Adobe Illustrator – graphic design, social media content, illustrator, typography, marketing materials, logo designing, architectural illustration work
Adobe Photoshop – retouching, photography editing, architectural images / collages, social media content, branding design, marketing materials, digital art
Adobe InDesign – Branding design, marketing materials, booklets, document creation
Architectural photography – prints of your work, freelance photography, videography
Hand-drawing – art and design, handmade art / products
Some other skills that are easy to learn include social media management, basic website design, portfolio critiques, professional photography and blogging (plus more that we can’t think of, so let us know of your ideas in the comments).
If you think about it, some skill relates to another skill which relates to another skill, and yes, you might end up being a bit further away than architecture but the skills you develop will be beneficial for you. For example, having a passion for architecture and blogging resulted in the creation of this website. We’re able to provide you with tutorials, a decent-looking and working website, archives, aesthetic feed and community reach because along the way, I’ve learnt these skills and used my existing knowledge to help me. The few years I spent studying Computing allowed me to understand basic CSS code while creating our website. So, think about the valuable skills you already possess and try build on those.
YouTube videos are definitely the way to go. If you don’t know how to do something, chances are you’ll find it on Google or through a video. Personally, it’s helped me create my own side business with ease because I have an idea of how to create websites now. It also helped me get a part time role as social media manager which benefitted the company I was working for as well as giving myself tips on how to reach more people with our blog.
Our generation is great for these things because we know exactlywhat kind of topics are trending and as architects we have an eye for design. When you think about it, almost every companyin this day and age will need some kind of social media branding and start-upsor small businesses don’t have the budget to be hiring experts so instead theygo with the people who know it best. With a few tips from people in the sameindustry, you’ll understand in no time what you need to work on, and this can applyfor almost anything. If you don’t really get how to capture architecture inphotography, watch some videos on composition or camera management and boom, you’reimproving your skills with ease.
Why Building Skills is Important
The reason for this article isn’t to persuade you into othercareer options. By all means, architecture is fantastic and there is a sense ofsatisfaction when creating and designing a space that brings joy to people.Only we can really understand the amount of hard work put into the projects wework on. Having these extra skills on the side might be the thing that sets youaside from others. For example, when applying for jobs after you graduate oreven much later on, you can tell firms that you are able to go above and beyondinto helping the company as a whole rather than just attending and doing yourjob. Being proactive and offering suggestions or improvements will only helpyou in the long run.
Sure, it doesn’t make you a perfect all-rounder, but if youhave an interest in other things, think about how you can work on your skillsto achieve results through it. We all know, students are usually tight onmoney, so if you offer your services on creating a few branding materials forlocal brands around you, you can work on using software and learning aboutdesign whilst also making a bit of money on the side.
You could most definitely add these skills to your CV. Justdon’t go overboard and try keep it professional and relate back to why this hashelped you overall. For example, working with a start-up usually means you’remuch more involved in core projects or campaigns and you need to be able tomanage your time well and do the work you’ve been assigned. Architecture (orany other course) and its prospective jobs require the same things. If anemployer can see you’ve worked well in the past, managed your time and multipleprojects, they will definitely see a place for you in their company.
We hope this gave you the inspiration and motivation to trydo something in your spare time (if you have any!) and expand your list ofskills. If you have any suggestions or recommendations of other kinds ofskills, or if you have your own story to share, let us know in the commentsbelow or DM us on Instagram.