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Celebrating our Apprentices | National Apprenticeship Week 2024

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By Debbie Kyrkili – 6th February 2024

Each year we take the opportunity to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week by talking to past and present Corstorphine & Wright apprentices about their experiences of this alternative education path.

Since recruiting our first Architect Degree Apprentice in 2021, we now have six colleagues on the scheme across different Corstorphine & Wright studios. This route is both challenging and rewarding, offering our current cohort the opportunity to take their learnings from university and put into practice and vice versa.

Several of our apprentices, Weronika, Ayesha, Izem and aB, have shared with us some of their experiences. Weronika Galecka is based in our Stourbridge studio and studies at Nottingham University. Ayesha Beazley is based in London and studies at London South Bank University. Izem Celik and aB Mukadam are both based in Birmingham and study at the University of Cambridge.

What attracted you most about studying architecture through the apprenticeship scheme?

Izem: I made the decision to continue my academic journey through the apprenticeship route, as it offered me the opportunity to enhance my practical skills in Practice while concurrently pursuing a master’s degree program. By combining working in a studio with academic study, this program effectively bridges the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application. I firmly believe that it encompasses both aspects of knowledge in the benefits of pursuing a continuous degree structure.

Ayesha: As a full-time working mother, pursuing an apprenticeship provided me with the chance to pursue my degree while earning. I can gain hands-on learning and experience within the studio which is vital to my professional development and career growth.

aB: I am currently studying towards my Part 2 and 3 whilst gaining valuable industry experience. This opportunity allows me to develop my skills and work on live projects spanning different sectors within the industry while concurrently enhancing my theoretical understanding through academic study. I believe this integrated approach to architectural study will not only give me an advantage in my upcoming Part 3 exams but also give me a solid platform towards my future professional development.

Weronika: The opportunity to get practical experience whilst studying for my professional qualification was the most important factor. I learn the best through practise; thus, I could not have found a better path for pursuing my education.

How do you envision your role in shaping the future of architecture?

Weronika: I believe the future of architecture is green and I aspire to become an architect to tackle the challenges of sustainable design. My apprenticeship not only allows me to understand a problem from different perspectives but also teaches practical skills for implementing green solutions in my designs.

Can you discuss a project that has significantly challenged you and how you overcame these challenges?

Ayesha: During the apprenticeship, juggling design and development work with limited time can be challenging. However, I’ve discovered that prioritising quality over quantity yields more value. Concise, well-executed pieces of work have been more valuable than numerous, less-considered drawings and information.

Weronika: The most challenging task so far was working out a way to stay organised with my apprenticeship’s work. What helps me a lot is taking my time to plan tasks I need to complete and compile them into a list I can follow and use to easily track my progress.

What part of the course have you enjoyed most so far?

aB: One of the most interesting parts is where we work in teams. We understand how to collaborate with our peers who we don’t know very well yet and understand the dynamics of people who we don’t know well. It allows us to explore the characteristics and personalities of roles and responsibilities within team working. This influences my understanding of working in Practice and where individuals fit in within the wider organisation.

Izem: Unlike other apprenticeships, which involve attending university once a week, this course follows a block format which is called residential sessions. Every three months, we spend 10 days in Cambridge’s college accommodation, during this period we collaborate on projects within small groups, present to the cohort and external guests, and make use of resources like workshops, studios, and libraries. I have enjoyed working in a focused and collaborative environment where we all shared our skills and experiences, further enriching the learning process.

What advice would you give to someone starting the apprentice scheme?

Izem: I firmly believe in the importance of gathering information and conducting thorough research on the curriculum and course structure before embarking on this journey. This understanding would enable students to anticipate and manage the balance between university studies and practical work effectively, even before commencing the course. I am hopeful that more students will consider this path, as I strongly believe it offers a more inclusive route toward qualification compared to traditional methods.

aB: I would recommend this route to aspiring architects because it offers a unique opportunity to explore work you may not typically carry out in practice. It allows you to pursue design and theoretical interests alongside the professional experience to enhance your CV and understanding of architectural design in its built form but also through writing. Additionally, the apprenticeship significantly broadens your network opportunities, allowing you to bridge the gap between education and professional practice.

How has Corstorphine & Wright supported your apprenticeship?

Izem: I feel very fortunate to be part of a dynamic, talented, and diverse team at Corstorphine & Wright. Collaborating with individuals across different studios and teams has provided me with valuable insights and experiences. The team I am currently working with understands the delicate balance between academic commitments and professional responsibilities and has shown exceptional support and understanding. Moreover, the collective skill sets and knowledge within the entire team, coupled with the unwavering support from our directors, have contributed significantly to my growth and development. Their guidance and encouragement have been instrumental in navigating the challenges of both academia and practical work, enabling me to excel in my role and contribute meaningfully to our projects.

Are you an early bird or a night owl? Do you have a favourite food or drink whilst working on a deadline?

Weronika: I am definitely a night owl! I enjoy snacking on crunchy fruits and drinking my favourite matcha latte!

aB: I enjoy working at night and often in the dark with just the glow of my laptop or tablet.

Ayesha: Always chocolate for late-night working!

What’s your favourite way to study?

aB: Collaboration is so important and sometimes we have to challenge our working styles to work well within a team – even if we prefer independent study. A hybrid combination of being able to work effectively in a team but also being able to take ownership over ones tasks is a key part of working in the industry.

Izem: My preferred method of studying is independently, in a quiet environment, using the Pomodoro technique. However, I also find value in collaborative work within a team. The apprenticeship course has provided me with ample opportunities to enhance my teamwork skills. These sessions allowed for the exchange of ideas and knowledge among peers. Additionally, since all students are employed full-time in respected practices, we had the chance to share and learn from each other’s professional experiences.


“Offering apprenticeship routes means that the next generation of Corstorphine & Wright talent can be nurtured within the Practice. Participating in apprenticeship schemes isn’t solely about passing on skills; it’s also about maintaining professional acumen, enhancing theoretical knowledge, and gaining access to top-notch universities. Our commitment to the apprenticeship scheme is to shape our future talent and build a dynamic, inclusive Corstorphine & Wright community for all.”

Debbie Kyrkili

People & Culture Executive

Marcus Lewis_CW-Birmingham-Studio-23aug22-196_WEBSITE

“Apprenticeships are an invaluable route into the Architectural profession. It allows for a wider range of talented people to enter the construction industry. This route provides a practical, hands-on approach to learning, with the support of business and educational institutions. The apprentices get the best of both worlds when it comes to learning, experience and gaining the knowledge to become Architectural professionals.”

Marcus Lewis

Associate Director

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