Published: 29 Sep 2009
Many employers outside of the architectural profession see a part I degree as a valuable asset, and it is possible to pursue a number of other careers if you no longer wish to become an architect.
If you do want to continue to the part II postgraduate qualification, most architecture schools will require that you complete a year of practical paid experience as an architectural assistant.
Students will need to source this position themselves but schools will offer guidance on the practices and types of experience they prefer if asked. Most advise applying to smaller practices where there will be more opportunity to be involved in all stages of a project.
Those who join larger firms as a part I architectural assistant may find themselves mainly working on creating CAD images.
You can find out which practices lecturers at the school of your choice work at and apply to those practices. Try to make contact with partners and directors at the practices you would like to apply to - avoid sending CVs and portfolios 'cold' to human resources departments or practice managers.
If you see a part I placement advertised, call the practice, introduce yourself and ask them what they are looking for in applicants. If your application is unsuccessful, ask for feedback from the practice to find out why.
You can expect a yearly salary, but do not expect to be generously paid. Some practices will recruit for specific jobs and pay an hourly rate. You can find out more about what you can expect to earn as an architectural assistant here.
If you cannot find a part I placement in the UK, there are other options. Some schools are now accepting students straight onto part II degree courses without practical experience as the recession has made it difficult for some to find a placement. You will need to make up the extra year of practical experience after your part II degree to qualify.
It is also worth considering applying to practices in other countries, particularly Europe, America and Australasia. During the last recession many part I students completed their year out in Berlin and similar cities, but make sure that this is acceptable to your part II school.
For more tips on professional development visit RIBA's Professional Education and Development Resource