What is the Architecture Apprenticeship?
👋 Hi, my name is Sundeep Bhudia and I’m an Architectural Assistant Apprentice at Jacobs. The Architecture Apprenticeship is something I wanted to share with more people!
I remember being in the uncertain position that thousands of students find themselves in every year – trying to decide their career path with various opportunities but often lacking a clear direction. At school, I was always passionate about Graphic Design. This developed into an enthusiasm for Architecture, becoming increasingly intrigued with the forms, purposes, and influences of buildings on the environment and on our lives.
Throughout my later years at school and Sixth Form I applied for work experience at various Architecture practices to try and obtain a feel for the industry I wanted to progress into. I secured a placement at Scott Brownrigg, where I interacted with several architects to gain an insight into architecture beyond the drawing board. I also spent a few weeks at LTS Architects where I was able to work on multiple projects with a team of architects.
After progressing into Sixth Form, I found the University education route was being heavily promoted. As a result of this, together with the fact that to become an accredited Architect required a full-time 7-year University education (with 2 years’ work placement included), I felt pressured to apply.
Deep down, I did not want to progress to University, although I realised to reach my full potential this was the only way. My biggest concern was financial – whether it was worth investing large amounts of time and money into full-time education with no guarantee of a job at the end. I was also worried about fitting in and enjoying the University environment. I have always been someone who thrives off the more hands-on environment rather than academic.
After Securing a place to study Architecture at The University of Manchester, I still felt that this was not the route I wanted to take. Even after my A level Results Day I had held off the offer from the University of Manchester.
After some persistent searching for an apprenticeship, I managed to find a needle in the haystack – a job role advertised by Jacobs for an Architectural Assistant Apprentice, an extremely rare find at the time, the apprenticeship was new and only one university offering the degree. After going through the application process, I was informed I was successful and would be taken on as an apprentice.
What is an architecture apprenticeship?
A Level 6 Apprenticeship within the Architecture community is incredibly new, with only a handful of people in the UK on such a unique course. This University backed Architecture Degree Level Apprenticeship, was the perfect solution for me, taking me all the way from undergraduate to the completion of Part I (accreditation). There are also Level 7 Apprenticeships on offer which include Part II and Part III. Essentially, I work full-time (4 days a week) with Jacobs in their London Office, with a day release every week to attend London Southbank University.
My experience as an Apprentice
Starting my apprenticeship with Jacobs was like starting artwork on a fresh canvas. I did not have extensive knowledge or skills in the built environment sector, but plenty of enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn. With any job, if you do not have the enthusiasm and willingness to learn and build yourself then are you making the right choice?
In contrast to other students, I can earn during my education whilst also gaining invaluable experience in a practice setting. This is by no means easy; the combination of work and University pushes my time management to the limits, and it is incredibly demanding but equally very rewarding. Working 8 hours a day and then having to put in hours towards the university aspect to prepare for crits and submission requires lots of time management.
I am not only gaining practical experience while being nurtured by the professionals at Jacobs but being educated on a course with the required accreditation. I believe this combination is a brilliant platform for me to grow within my current role and progress in the future. Being able to learn from tutors who have a wealth of practical experience has been very beneficial as they themselves understand the ever-changing industry and the world around them. Having the opportunity to get feedback on university design work from colleagues has also been very helpful. Moreover, there is lots of cross over in terms of the technical skills learnt in practice and design briefs given in university.
Jacobs have been great in supporting my development. I have been exposed to many scenarios on a wide range of projects, being pushed and challenged to improve my new and existing skills in and out of the office. Most of the projects I work on are within the infrastructure sector such as railway station/ depots designs as well as a mix of schools and aviation. This is where I learn a great deal about the technical side of architecture.
The team have all been incredibly kind, patient, and attentive. I think it is important that all employers respect, value and help develop young people; at Jacobs this is one of the core principles. At no point have I been restricted; I regularly participate in design and development and am always allowed to express myself.
Jacobs have given me this incredible platform from which I can grow, personally and professionally whilst continuing to help progress the business. Long term, my goal is to become a fully accredited Architect.
Architecture is an incredibly rewarding profession, witnessing your design ideas being built, and how they transform the lives of those who interact with them. Problem-solving is the heart of Architecture, with every project having its own set of challenges, with us as aspiring architects trying to unlock the full potential of the clients brief while considering the potential environmental and technological impacts.
What advice would I give?
Work experience is a must in any industry, employers look for candidates who are keen on learning and willing to get some experience. This does not have to be at a big firm, in fact, many smaller architectural firms offer more work experience and are less competitive.
Do not be afraid to apply and do not be disheartened when rejected (Do not give up after being rejected by one company). When I was on the hunt for an apprenticeship, I had to apply to a few companies. Keep an eye out by regularly checking for any job openings they might have.
Most importantly, keep your CV and Portfolio up to date. There is never a point in your career where you stop updating your portfolio and CV, be proud of what you have produced, it’s your work. You must remember you are not the only one applying for this role, think about what you can offer to the company and what makes you stand out from the crowd.
Networking in a world we live in now due to Covid 19 is key. The benefits of using online platforms such as LinkedIn help put your name out there if used correctly.
I hope this has helped anyone who is still unsure or lost in the pursuit of their ideal career path. I'd say that being able to earn and learn at the same time is a massive plus. I would urge everyone to do what you enjoy, there are many opportunities out there but do not let anyone try and make the decision for you.
If you have any questions, want to know more, or want some advice on the apprenticeship, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or Instagram
Below are some useful links for the Level 6 Architecture Degree Apprenticeship: