Merve Gulener: Internship at Urbanist Architecture
Featured Success Stories
November 25, 2019
Merve, from Turkey
Q: Tell us why you wanted to pursue higher education in UK
Merve: I wanted to extend my academic learning and pursue a Masters in my field, so I applied to the University of Westminster for architecture.
I wanted to do something besides the curriculum and continue my academic education with work experience. The initial idea was not to make a career here, but I just wanted to observe how architecture, my field, is carried out in London. In that sense, London was a great choice for me. In one of the years, I did work experience, did some networking and came in touch with the mentoring scheme at my University. And currently, I am working. I wanted to extend my experience here and the biggest thing that a masters education in London gives me is that a critical understanding of everything, an analysis of concepts and data, presenting that data.
'In the UK, You Can Access Any Data, Any Network'
Q: How was it different here than your home country? Feel free to tell us in a broad way.
Merve: I did my Bachelors in Cyprus, where the scope of growth was really limited. Here, in the UK, there is no limit to data, you can access any data, any network here. Even the school's website keeps us updated, weekly newsletters about the jobs, we get to network. But as an international student, it also feels a lot like starting afresh from scratch. I was initially shy to reach out to the people, but then I started searching for opportunities, which is also when I came across Student Circus. So this sort of internet access enabled networking online through social groups and networks and portals.
'A Need To Be Proactive In Searching For Opportunities'
Q: Being an international student, how did you approach your job search?
Merve: There is always a struggle owing to being an international student. It is true that you can use it to your advantage by bringing your unique experience to the company because of your international background. In most cases, however, it is a big obstacle because of the work opportunities being limited due to the work VISA.
Of course, there is some VISA restriction, then there is a language barrier. There's also a concern of the uncertainty in the future. For the companies, it is also a big decision to invest in the VISA. So there is a need to be proactive in searching for opportunities that come with sponsorship.
'I learnt a lot, attended meetings, faced the clients'
Q: An Intern at Urbanist Architecture, tell us about a day in the office.
Merve: I wanted to make the most of my time here, so I applied to the mentoring scheme, which is a really good programme at my University. I applied to this mentorship scheme and my mentor was a manager/Founder at Urbanist Architecture, so I had a couple of meetings with them and I was really willing to learn more because you have to be on the field in some aspects of work. For example, if you're in business management - you need to be on the field and talk to the client and the architect - experience the real office. I was really willing to learn more, so he just offered me a work experience opportunity. I learnt a lot, attended meetings, faced the clients etc.
'Even Now When I Am Looking For A Full-Time Job, I Am Using The Portal'
Q: How did Student Circus assist you in your job hunt?
Merve: In the first or second months that I was here, I started applying through Student Circus. At first, I wasn't that successful - either the timing was off, or the choice wasn't a perfect fit. But the information available here was extremely important in helping navigate the job scene here. So even now when I am looking for a full-time job, I am using the portal. It wasn’t until I landed the Urbanist Architecture scheme that I actually saw things in action.
In my experience, students need to really search their options when it comes to VISA applications it becomes tricky because they do not know the process and so they should be honest in their network- websites like Student Circus can help put in that filter.