Interview with Amara: Architecture Student and Front Line Worker

Amara Ugradar has been completing the final year of her Architecture BSc (Cons) course whilst working on the front line during the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic. This interview will delve into her experiences.

Q: Amara, thank you for continuing to work through the pandemic, what type of work do you do and how has it changed?

“Well currently I work at Asda as a chilled colleague, which I have been doing for two and a half years. In terms of change, I think the atmosphere of my work has changed as I’ve become extra careful with my surroundings and the people I come into contact with. But I have also started to take precautions in order to maintain a 2m distance with my colleagues and the people shopping in stores. I am very lucky in terms of not having lost my job as many have in these unprecedented times, due to the demand for workers in supermarkets. When it comes to shopping in stores or working, I believe the general behaviour of people coming in stores and people working in stores has changed drastically due to current circumstances in order to keep ourselves safe.”

Q: Talking of drastic changes, how do you feel completing the final year of your Architecture course online? How have you had to adapt?

“I feel amazing having completed the final year of my Part 1 Architecture course. The change of environment for my learning has been very difficult for me personally in terms of motivation and drive to complete work, but my determination to complete this course with a good grade was the main focal point for me getting through the year.

I personally loved the change of environment between my house and my place of learning as it helped to adjust mentally in preparation for work and so without this mode of change I began to struggle. In the end I had to adapt to my surroundings and make the most of the space in my home for work. I’ve adapted my usual daily routine to include breaks and exercise in order to keep me sane during the quarantine but to also get me to move around instead of continually starting at my computer.

In general, I’m very proud of myself for completing this course with a 1st while also continuing to work at my job, yet also adapting to the sudden change in environment.”

Q: Have you had any other positive experiences during this pandemic?

“Not only has there been many struggles but there have been many positive experiences. I have had more time to spend with my family than I would usually in a day. I have all had time to reflect and find new hobbies and activities to keep me busy such as planting, sketching and cooking. Overall, quarantine has given me more time to try and learn new things.”

Q: Combining your job with an architecture degree must have been hard. Is there any advice you would give to others wanting to do the same?

“I think generally working and studying is hard bud adding the sudden change in environment can make it even harder. In terms of advise, I would advise anyone in the same position to make sure to always keep the same level of determination in your work even when there are times where your motivation is at a real low. I think if you always keep in mind what you’re aiming for you can succeed in any circumstances. I would also advise maintaining a source of communication with your friends and people you study with, be that online or with your phone, in order to keep your sanity but also help keep you up to date in your studies and the progress you are making in your work.”

Q: In terms of progress, how do you feel about the jobs market for recent Architecture Graduates?

“I think due to the current circumstances many architectural firms have struggled to maintain the business with everything closing for quarantine. I think this has resulted in fewer jobs for architecture graduates and a real sense of struggle obtaining a job for the year off before masters. This has resulted in many graduates going straight into masters in order to wait and return when the job market is full of opportunities.”

Q: What does the future hold for Amara in the next couple of years?

“Well hopefully everything is back to normal in the future. As for me personally, I will try to look for a job for the next few months and if I do not receive any opportunities then I will most likely proceed with my masters. Once I’ve completed my masters I will look for a job combining both my year outs before finally completing the exam to become fully qualified. If I do get a job then I will take that year out to gain as much experience and then proceed to do masters. Hopefully either opportunities will result in becoming fully qualified and gaining my title as an Architect.

I also hope to travel and experience more of the world in the future… try to gain as much experience and expand my knowledge of architecture.”

If you’re interested in Amara’s LinkedIn please click here

2018 Architecture University trip to Copenhagen, me (left) and Amara (right)

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