RIBA Part One
Beginning study at university is a fun, exciting and amazing time and it can set you up for a long and enjoyable career. The experiences will last you a lifetime, but it is also the foundation for the direction your career will take. The design studio that you select each year will help you to think about where you want to go in your career, what sector you work in and ultimately, what you want to achieve. Do you want to design commercial towers, social housing or healthcare facilities? Your university days are the time to learn, network and develop the basic skills required as an Architect.
Most Part One courses will begin with a variety of introductory modules, introducing the fundamentals of design, presentation and drafting skills. Different design software will also be used, possibly even with formal classes to help you learn how to use the software. It would be hugely beneficial to have a basic understanding of a range of software before starting your course, particularly a 3D program, which will make it easier to pick up other programs and build upon your knowledge and abilities.
Documenting and presenting your ideas quickly and clearly will be an important skill to learn, which can easily be done through a good sketch. Sketching and hand drawing skills will be introduced early in your studies and will remain with you throughout your careers.
Towards the end of your last academic year, you will be busy with your final crit, your submissions and the end of year show. This period is also a great time to prepare your portfolio, finilise your CV and make your online presence as professional as possible. If time allows, you should also begin applying for jobs, as many people will wait until the end of summer before starting their search.
Stage One practical experience/Year Out
Finding a job at the start of your career can be difficult, but if you prepare far enough in advance, you can give yourself an advantage. Gaining work experience as early as possible, such as during your school summer holidays, will increase your opportunites later on in your career. Finding summer work at architectural practices during your university summer breaks is also possible, but much more competitive. Leveraging you contacts and your wider network is the easiet way to find employment, and online job boards or recruitment agencies can also work out. In the practice I currently work at, we have previously hired people who have speculatively knocked on our door with the portfolio under their arm.
The job that you take during your year out can will set the stage for the rest of your career, with many people being pidgeon-holed into the sector they began working in. This is more likely to be the case if you begin your career at a large practice, where your experience is more highly focused in one area as opposed to a small practice where your experience is more spread out.
Professional Educational and Development Records (PEDRs)
As part of your final professional qualification you will need to submit ‘Professional Educational and Development Records’ (PEDRs). One PEDR sheet covers one quarter of the year, and you document the projects worked on, your experiences as well as your reflections and goals. If you work on many different projects, you may find your PEDRs are much more time consuming to complete as you need to add each project, with fairly detailed background information regarding type, size and scope of works.
Note: I have produced a more in-depth guide for completing your PEDRs which can be found here.
When you start working, you should begin to think about completing your PEDR’s as soon as practically possible, as it will become difficult to remember what you worked on. Your office timesheets are a useful resource when completing your PEDRs, as well as the ARB criteria and guidance on the PEDR website. You need to have each PEDR signed off by your mentor (in the office) and a PSA (Professional Studies Advisor – a decdicated person at your university), and there is a tick box for your PSA to mark if the sheet was submitted within two months of the end of the coverage period. Leaving all of your PEDRs until the final months of your Part 3 course may demonstrate a lack of professional care to your external examiner. You will need 8 completed PEDR sheets as part of your Part 3 submission to satisfy the experience requirement of the qualification, and you may be asked questions during the final interview, so complete them properly!