Job Title: Graduate Designer
About my job
What does your department do?
The design department is responsible for progressing residential schemes from the initial stages of concept design through to submitting detailed planning applications. The design department is also responsible for producing and maintaining Thakeham’s Standard House Type Portfolio. For smaller schemes the entire design process might be handled in-house, whereas on a larger scheme the design department may take on more of a managerial role, coordinating external design consultants.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
Every day is different in the design department due to the large number of projects we work on concurrently. One day we might be sketching some conceptual ideas for a scheme and the next we could be designing a new house type for use on a completely different scheme.
What do you like about what you do?
I enjoy the variety in my work. The design process is not a simple one and often involves being critiqued and subsequently amending a project that you have spent a long time working on. However this gives you the feeling of constantly improving both your work and your design ability.
Why did you choose this career?
I’ve always been interested in designing and making things. After obtaining my RIBA Part 1 qualification I worked for 8 months in an architecture practice before making the move to Thakeham. I decided that I wanted to work in Thakeham’s design department because their aspirations matched my own – to design aspirational places where people want to live.
What qualifications did you need to get this job?
It’s broadly recognised that an undergraduate degree in Architecture or a similar construction related degree is the minimum requirement for this type of job. Some designers may have additional qualifications, whilst others may have practical experience in other areas of the construction industry.
Is there any particular advice you would give to someone looking for a career in your area of work?
As an architecture graduate looking to pursue a career in design, you have a few decisions to make. The normal route of progression involves working as an architectural assistant within an architecture practice for experience and then completing your postgraduate qualifications in architecture. I realised that in the majority of cases, your progression within an architects practice was going to be limited by the stage of professional development you are at. This is not the case with many developers, and completing my ‘Part 2’ is not essential for me to progress in my career at Thakeham. I have learnt through the short amount of time since graduating that, although completing your professional qualification and becoming an architect is assumed to be the prescribed post-university route, you still have options.
Another piece of advice that I would give is to ensure that your CV and portfolio of work is always up-to-date and to a high standard. Be confident when presenting your work – you are selling yourself as a designer.
Questions & Answers
What hobbies or interests do you have?
I try to stay as active as I can. I play rugby for a local team and try to exercise most days. I swam a lot at university and was the Vice President of the swimming club so have been trying to get back into that. I enjoy going for long walks at the weekend with my girlfriend and also eat so much pizza that it could definitely be classed as a hobby.
What’s your favourite type of music?
As my colleagues will testify, I have quite an eclectic taste in music. My Spotify playlist at work features anyone from Jimi Hendrix to Vanessa Carlton.
What’s your favourite film / film genre?
My favourite film is probably Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, although I’m also a massive Lord of the Rings geek.
Where’s your favourite place to go on holiday?
I treat holidays as an adventure rather than time to relax, whether it’s kayaking on the Dordogne or skydiving in New Zealand. I love going on city breaks in Europe as there is such a diverse range of cultures in reasonably close proximity to each other.