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North West Student Mentoring: Case Study with Madalina-Oana Blaje

An insight into the RIBA North West Student Mentoring scheme from a second-year architecture student mentored by AFL Architects in Manchester

09 November 2017

This year, over 200 architecture students in the North West have been allocated a mentor as part of the RIBA North West Student Mentoring scheme with the region's five RIBA-validated Schools of Architecture. Here we speak to one of the first students to complete the mentoring scheme and find out how they benefited from being mentored during their undergraduate studies.

Name: Madalina-Oana Blaje
University: Manchester School of Architecture
Mentor: Richard King, AFL Architects

Madalina-Oana Blaje completed the RIBA North West Student Mentoring scheme in 2015/16 whilst a second-year student at the Manchester School of Architecture. She was mentored by Richard King, Associate at AFL Architects in Manchester and has since gone on to complete her Part 1 year-out at UNStudio in Amsterdam.

What made you interested in finding a mentor through the RIBA Student Mentoring scheme?
Whilst the School of Architecture provides plenty of opportunities to develop your skills and knowledge, the RIBA Student Mentoring scheme allows participating students to develop the professional skills required and provides experience of life in practice.

Do you think having a mentor made a difference to the rest of your time at the Manchester School of Architecture?
I feel that having a mentor during the second year of my study definitely made a difference to the rest of my time at university. Firstly, it provided me with the opportunity to ask for advice, information and an informed opinion in relation to my university work. Secondly, it was great to be able to compare my ideas with real-life projects being worked on by the practice.

Is there a specific thing that it's changed for you? Is there something you've done differently because you've had a mentor?
I have enjoyed the mentoring experience and being mentored by Richard King at AFL Architects in Manchester. In addition to the mentoring experience, the practice allowed me the opportunity to gain work experience in the office over the summer break and encouraged me to pursue my interest in parametric design. As a result, I have been completing my Part 1 year-out experience at UNStudio in Amsterdam which I have really enjoyed!

Should all students seek the support of a mentor, and why?
It's a unique opportunity and one I would encourage all students to take advantage of. The mentoring scheme has allowed me to meet some great people, speak to future employers and develop my skills whilst gaining confidence. Overall, the mentoring scheme has helped open doors for my future career.

Do you intend to keep in touch with your mentor for further mentoring and career advice?
I hope to keep in touch with my mentor for the rest of my career. I am delighted that I have been able to stay in touch with Richard and ask for his professional opinion since completing the mentoring scheme.

If you would like to take part in RIBA North West Student Mentoring, contact the North West team on

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