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What's it like to be an architectural apprentice? \

A Q&A with Humzah Uzzaman, architectural apprentice at Hawkins\Brown

This week is National Apprentice Week, which looks to raise awareness of alternative routes into professional practice with the ultimate aim to become a more inclusive profession. An architectural apprenticeship combines academic training at university with practical experience with a practice, which enables the student to work throughout their studies and eventually gain a Part 3 qualification.

Humzah Uzzaman joined us a year and a half ago as an apprentice. We asked him about life as an apprentice at Hawkins\Brown, and how he juggles work and study.

Tell us about your decision to do an apprenticeship instead of the traditional university route.

I decided to pick the apprentice route rather than a traditional year out due to the ‘fast track’ route into the profession. Coming from a background that has never had any family in the architectural profession it was important to me that I gain the most experience possible. The apprentice programme includes my Postgraduate study and Part 3 examination which is all taken care of which is also another incentive to do an apprenticeship instead of accumulating the mounting costs of paying for a Masters.

What is your work and study split like?

I work four days a week and every Friday I attend university which consists of lectures, studio projects and face to face contact time with my lecturers. Keeping a balance of work life, university and a social life has its challenges, but I have found the support from Hawkins Brown really helpful as they are respectful of the workload and additional pressures.

What is the most exciting project you have worked on so far?

Since starting at Hawkins\Brown a year and a half ago, I have been working on a variety of interesting projects ranging from working on the project concerning my old secondary school (Central Foundation Boys School), Crossrail, and one of my favourite projects called Marshgate Lane. This is a mixed-use residential project just off Stratford High Street towards Pudding Mill Lane.

Do you have any tips for people who are considering an apprenticeship?

I would recommend the architectural apprenticeship to anyone who has their heart set on becoming an architect. It’s an intense programme however it aims to create greater diversity in the profession as well as providing the essential skills and knowledge to kickstart your career.

My lessons learned would be to manage your time efficiently as the deadlines for work and university can often clash. Working a 9-5 job, then going home to do more university work can be stressful so it’s essential maintenance to ensure you leave some time in the week to unwind!

“It’s an intense programme however it aims to create greater diversity in the profession as well as providing the essential skills and knowledge to kickstart your career.”

Humzah Uzzaman, Architectural Apprentice

A model of the Central Foundation Boy's School

Would you consider an apprenticeship?

"Humzah joined us a year and a half ago following the success of our first apprentice," says Harbinder Birdi, Head of Infrastructure and our apprenticeship scheme lead. He adds, "We are encouraged that the network of academic providers for the apprenticeship scheme is growing – they clearly see the value of training to be an architect through this route. Studying in one of these universities whilst working in a multi-sector, research-led practice such as Hawkins\brown will offer a learning programme that is geared to deal with both present and future challenges of the built environment.

We are keen to employ and work with another Level 7 apprentice for the term in September 2020, and those interested should contact us via the careers page."

“We are keen to employ and work with another level 7 apprentice for the term in September 2020”

Harbinder Birdi, Head of Infrastructure & Transport

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