Caring for Students, Interns & Graduates in Practice
The third section of the Architects Mental Wellbeing Toolkit emphasises the importance of structured development and a supportive environment to help make the work/study balance as easy as possible for students, interns, and graduates on the pathway to registration.
Studying architecture can be a stressful process, which takes place at a particularly vulnerable point in our lives. The transition to architecture school, with high workloads, long hours and competing deadlines, often comes with financial and accommodation stresses, and the need to combine study with work.
Student surveys by the Architects’ Journal in the UK in 2016 revealed alarming statistics about the prevalence of mental health problems among students. Anecdotal evidence suggests we have a similar situation here in Australia, though the Wellbeing of Architects: culture, identity + practice research project is currently underway to gain a clearer picture of the situation on the ground and to provide a framework for mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention in the profession. It’s important that employers provide structured development and a supportive environment to help make the work/study balance as easy as possible for students, interns, and graduates on the pathway to registration.
Tips for practices
- Ensure that the mental wellbeing champion in the office has regular check-ins with students and graduates.
- Liaise with universities and students to understand what is required of them.
- Ensure that the practice does not take on unpaid interns unless they are part of an accredited vocational placement.
- Create a mentoring system – to impart advice but also to monitor how employees are coping.
- Ensure that managers and teams are aware of key dates and deadlines for studies and registration, so these can be taken into consideration when resourcing projects.
Tips for individuals
- Before joining a practice or starting a course, make it clear to your employer what will be required of you in your studies.
- If possible, create a written agreement with your practice, clearly setting out issues such as study allowance, key dates etc.
- Communicate important dates to your manager and those around you.
- Be aware that studying and working in parallel can be intense – the best way to manage this is to be well organised and very disciplined with your time.
- Find a routine that works for you, and allows you to successfully balance your work and study responsibilities.
- Managing mental health – Architects and Mental Health Literature Review, NSW Architects Registration Board.
- An anxious discipline – Byron Kinnaird, Parlour: gender, equity, architecture.
- Stress test: addressing mental illness at architecture school – Sandra Kaji-O’Grady, AA.
- My first architecture job – Sarah Lebner. Includes the Architect Project, which aims to support students and graduates, and bridge the divide between university and practice.
- 2021 National Standard of Competency for Architects – AACA, Framework for education and professional experience on the pathway to registration as an architect.
- Mentoring guideline – Parlour Guides to Equitable Practice, Parlour: gender, equity, architecture.
- Legal advice: Unpaid internships – Nick Ruskin from K&L Gates, ACA.
This is an excerpt from the first edition of the Architects Mental Wellbeing Toolkit (Australia), an edited version of the UK Toolkit, which was compiled by members of the Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum in the UK – a group that John Assael and Ben Channon set up in late 2017 with the ambition of improving mental health across the profession.
This toolkit includes content and resources specific to Australia. We would like to thank Ben Channon and the AMWF UK for their generosity in allowing us to tailor this Toolkit for the Australian profession. Thanks also to Artemis Nikolopoulou, who designed the UK Toolkit, and Siân Rearden for the illustrations.