With a short-term work placement role so impressive that she was offered a part-time contract within a week, architecture student Anita Bielatowicz is thoroughly enjoying a mix of study and project work centred on a major homes-led development in Edinburgh.
In February 2017, two years into her Architectural Technology course at Edinburgh College, Anita went to the offices of planning and design consultancy Barton Willmore for a five-day placement, an employment opportunity which the company offered as part of its involvement in the 21st Century Homes programme. Getting to grips so quickly with the work she was given on the regeneration of Pennywell, a project led by Urban Union that is bringing over 700 new homes to the north-west of the Scottish capital, Anita impressed the bosses so much that they offered her a role at their expanding company that allows her to balance the office job with her continued degree studies.
Anita really enjoys combining the academic work with 28 hours a week of practical, hands-on project experience at the office. She says: “I am loving working for Barton Willmore,” she says. “Although I probably have a much busier week than the typical third-year student, the ‘real life’ insights gained by working for a busy architectural consultancy is so different from what I am learning at university – and it also provides invaluable experience for future job prospects.
“I have been lucky in that I am involved in a lot of high-profile projects involving a wide range of specialist disciplines – from 3D BIM modelling for a range of local projects to assisting with technical drawings and animations for major strategic masterplan development projects. I am now getting a much more specialised range of training, learning about sophisticated design technology from the architects here, and applying it to some of the most challenging and impactful projects happening anywhere right now in Scotland.”
Winning a number of major new contracts means Barton Willmore is growing quickly – appointing nine new recruits as recently as October 2017 – to work on all aspects of planning, masterplanning and design. Stuart Bishop heads the architecture team in Scotland and feels its incredibly important to bring on board the very best candidates it can, with work experience an excellent way to see just how well someone would slot into the role.
He says: “It’s great to see students like Anita joining us on temporary work placement, then growing with the company to become an integral part of our team and hopefully part of our future. It shows that initiatives like the community benefits scheme are more than just good ideas or a tick-box exercise used to win contracts. If developed properly, work placements can be an important access route for young local talent to develop their career working with projects that can often have a direct impact on to their own lives, as well as their professional futures.
“Our experience with Anita has encouraged us to develop more work placements along similar lines. It has also strengthened our relationship with Edinburgh College as we now take on students from the college every year, as well as sponsoring a range of academic prizes.”