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RIBA North East : The positive impact of Student Mentoring

An insight into the student mentoring process that takes place in the North East with local practice Ryder Architecture

14 August 2018

North East Student Mentoring takes place from November to March and is offered to undergraduate second year students from both Schools of Architecture at Northumbria University and Newcastle University.

The student mentoring scheme is intended to give students an insight into practice and to enhance their learning experience. It is an invaluable experience that students gain as part of a one off programme provided by the RIBA. Last academic year, approximately 100 students applied and 14 Chartered Practices took part in the scheme.

Applications for this years student mentoring are now open. Register to be a mentor here, register to become a mentee here.

This year we caught up with a mentor and mentee to find out how this years programme has impacted positively on their practice and studies. Showing how student mentoring can add value to your practice and to a students University experience.

Mentor's: Philip Miller, Sophie Connor and Francessca Harrison, Ryder Architecture

What were your main reasons for wanting to become a mentor?
Primarily it’s the opportunity to give something back and help the next generation of architects get a better understanding of the real world of architecture sooner than they otherwise would.

What experience do you offer the students that they don’t get at University.
An insight into the workings of a successful office, exposing the students to the wide variety of skills an architect needs to possess into order to deliver projects and the pitfalls and possibilities which come with that. We also offer students the chance to visit sites and learn about the complex relationship between design and construction.

Have your past mentoring experiences allowed you to build up relationships where students have come back to do work experience
Yes a number of previous students have come back and done work experience in the form of weeklong work experiences, summer placements and some have come back and done their Part I placement with us.

What advice would you give to anyone considering applying to the scheme this year?
The emphasis is really for the students to take a degree of initiative and tell us what they want to learn about practice. We look for students who are engaged with us as mentors, ask questions and put forward ideas for themes or activities which will broaden their knowledge of real world architecture. As mentors we willingly give our time to help them develop as young professionals and we expect the same level of commitment from our students

© Ryder Architecture site visit with mentees part of the Student Mentoring programme

Mentee: Christina Elliott, Second Year Architecture Student from Northumbria University

Why did you apply to get involved in the mentoring scheme?
I wanted to expand the knowledge and understanding I had on architecture within practice. Being able to compare the differences between architecture in practice and studying architecture at university.

It also gave me a great opportunity to ask questions and seek valuable experience for personal progression.

What was your favourite part of the experience?
Being invited into practice to witness a design forum, where projects in differing stages are brought to the table and discussed by members of the firm. It was interesting how similar it was to a crit, really making me realise how important it is throughout different stages of design to have different opinions towards the brief to better the design.

What have you learnt from the mentoring scheme that you would not have learnt at university?
The mentoring scheme helped me to understand how the setup within university is very similar to the working ways of practice. Through understanding the methods of work in practice I can use this to better my own development within design. But also to understand the working ways beyond design.

If you could one piece of advice to anyone thinking about applying to be part of this programme, what would it be?
It is a great opportunity to add or start your experiences within architecture practice. The scheme is both beneficial to university work as well as professional development.

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