Katarina Reid

The two-way value of mentorship

By Katarina Reid, via RGU Fundraising and Alumni Engagement - 23 May 2024

Katarina Reid is a Chartered Architect at Crawford Architecture and mentor through the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment mentorship programme for first year students. She shares her experience so far as a mentor…

When I was approached about writing this blog I had so many great ideas on different topics.

I wanted this article to be beneficial for current students and inspiring for professionals that might be thinking about being involved with RGU. I thought about my experiences and how I became who I am today, in my professional career and personal life. The answer is very simple – mentorship.

Mentorship is a two-way street, where both parties benefit from their connection. It helps students to gain knowledge of working environment, allows them to ask questions outside the education system and helps them to develop a confidence in themselves. For mentors, it allows you to broaden your knowledge on different subjects, keeps you informed of current trends that are discussed at university and allows you to share your experience and help others to be the best versions of themselves.

Myself, as many other architects, feel that current education system does not fully prepare students for professional life. The lack of first-hand experience with running projects from brief to construction, not being pushed to understand statutory approvals and not being introduced enough to the business side of architecture leads to a lot of students feeling massive pressure when leaving university. It is great to see that this is being addressed by RGU, in connection with RIAS, by bringing in external mentors for the architecture students. Giving students this opportunity from first year of university not only helps them to decide that this is a right career path for them, but it also allows them to build relationships in professional community and understand the importance of having a network of likeminded people.

Gaining as much experience as possible before graduating is how you stand out to employers, how you show your commitment to the architecture profession, and it will also make you feel much more comfortable with the office environment going forward. Research shows that women are twice as likely to have to provide evidence of their competence and abilities. And that women with the same education as men are 30% less likely to be called for a job interview. In broad terms, this is projecting a message that the men are natural holders of this profession and appointing a women can be risky. As a young female, you often feel overlooked, however, by having an experience behind you, having that self-confidence that you are as good as other applicants helps massively.

Having someone to turn to is a great advantage and I am very proud to be a mentor for first year architecture students at RGU. As a part of the mentorship the students visited our practice, were introduced to the team, chatted though our experiences and how we can help them achieve their goals. We also made a visit to a building site to allow them to gain understanding of different parts of architecture.

I’ve been connected with two very talented girls and together, we are pushing boundaries in a male orientated profession to break the stigma.

Going forward, we have more visits scheduled, and I am hoping we can continue the relationship past their first year – it is great experience for us all.

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