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My journey on the RIBA Future Architects Mentoring Programme

Sharlett Noronha (LJMU) shares her experiences of the mentoring programme at Ryder Architecture

Every year, RIBA facilitates a mentoring programme for students of architecture, bringing practices into education to support the next generation. This year 180 students from six schools of Architecture from across the North West have taken part in the scheme. Here Sharlett Noronha, a third year student from Liverpool John Moores University, tells us about her group’s experience at Ryder Architecture.

A group of students from LJMU taking part in a site visit with a mentor from Ryder Architecture

As a third year Architecture student it can be quite daunting to think about what happens next, what do we do once our final models are made and drawings pinned up? How do we get a job? Well although these questions still remain unanswered, they seem a lot more manageable as we come into the final two weeks of The RIBA Future Architects Mentoring Programme.

Around December time, RIBA North West came to talk to us about the programme which brings practice into university to support the next generation of architects. RIBA Student Members are eligible to take part and upon a successful application are partnered up with local firms who introduce us to the ‘real’ world of Architecture.

In January, myself and maybe 20 colleagues from Liverpool John Moores university visited the RIBA North, which is luckily very close to us on Mann Island, Liverpool. Here we were introduced formally to the scheme and our firms. We were split into a few groups based on our answers from the application questionnaire such as what size firm and what type of architecture are we interested in. Along with five others, I was partnered with Ryder Architecture, a larger practice with multiple offices, including one in Liverpool next door to university! We introduced ourselves and a bit about our projects and arranged dates which might work.

The first meeting of three was on February 8th. Kayleigh Creighton was our correspondent with Ryder Architecture and introduced us to the practice, the RIBA plan of work and all its stages and some of their projects. We also met Lois Sykes, a Trainee Architect who was doing a Level 7 Degree Apprenticeship with Ryder for her Masters, rather than the more traditional route. It was very valuable to hear her experience as well as she was only two years above us. This session was very informative as we hadn't come across the plan of work so formally before or heard about alternative routes into architecture. It was also interesting to see office life and live projects, as some of us struggled to find work experience during the pandemic.

The next month we brought in examples of our CVs and portfolios. Kayleigh and Lois were really helpful and gave each of us time to receive feedback, as well as showing us their own CVs and portfolios and those of other colleagues. It was useful to hear their experience of getting a part one job and what time we might apply, how many pages we should include in our portfolio and more importantly what to include as some of us had a lot work from first and second year which didn’t need to be there.

Finally in April, Dimitrios Papatheodorou took us on a site visit to see a live project, rather than the end result. We met at the office, had a briefing and were shown the orthographic drawings and visualisations of the two projects we were about to see. Ryder provided us with all our safety gear from hard hats and high visibility vests to boots and gloves, as well as train tickets, as the sites were in Stockport. Upon arrival at the site, which was very close to the train station, we were given a full tour of both the office building and carpark by Dimitrios and the contractor overseeing the project. It was really interesting to see all the different layers of floors and walls in person. In particular the car park was very inspiring as there were no flat surfaces, the whole structure was made of ramps making it almost disorientating. It was a very exciting day and a great way to end our programme with Ryder.

Thank you to RIBA North West for organising such a great opportunity for students to understand more about the profession and what life in practice entails, and to Ryder Architecture and the other firms making it possible by supporting us in our long journey to become practicing Architects ourselves. I hope one day I can take part in the scheme myself and help future architecture students.

Sharlett Noronha

Thank you to all students, mentors and practices who have taken part in the mentoring scheme this year. Keep an eye on our social media and for information on the 2023/2024 programme.

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