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  • Editor checks in: What it’s actually like for young designers

    Hamish Kilburn, editor, Hotel Designs
    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
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    Editor checks in: What it’s actually like for young designers

    In his latest column, editor Hamish Kilburn addresses an issue that is resulting in young designers and architects missing out on a fair opportunity to succeed. Can we do more to help students to become the next generation of A&D professionals, he asks… 

    Hamish Kilburn, editor, Hotel Designs

    Do you remember when you first graduated; the struggle became real, your wages weren’t just spending money and the world all of a sudden felt exponentially larger. You were given your first opportunity to either sink or swim in working life and deadlines, allocated annual leave and working lunches became the new norm.

    For myself – and granted, journalism operates in a slightly different arena – it was an internship that I’d secured throughout my time at university that evolved into full-time job straight after I graduated. I was so grateful, hungry and eager to succeed as well as please. It felt like the right, and natural step forward after completing my final module as a student. I didn’t think about it too much at the time, but my fate had just been sealed by a smartly dressed stranger.

    Before this, I had applied elsewhere – I remember sitting in one interview, to be a financial journalist, blagging my way through while not evening understanding what the FTSE 100 was, or why the interviewer hadn’t grilled me yet on my D at Business A-level. To the surprise of nobody, I didn’t get the job. I wasn’t untalented, just inexperienced. The only reason I can think of why the company I was interning at the time offered me a role was my personality and that I had proved to them that I was able to work well with others. I’m pretty sure the fact that they lost their editor and assistant editor of one of their leading publications on the same day, close to the time my internship was up, was also a swaying factor. Either way, I took what I could and began to climb!

    “Can an industry that is fuelled by innovation afford to lose the raw talent that was so successfully incubated in that global campaign?”

    Things were different in 2014. For starters, deadly virus’ that shut boarders were sci-fi plots and internships were more meaningful. Working from home was a luxury, and tea-making etiquette was essential in order to survive.

    Today, while design studios globally try everything in their grasp to keep hold of their existing staff members, hundreds – if not thousands – of students are graduating from the comfort of education and being left in the wilderness. One aspiring architect recently shared with me that many workplaces he applied for requested at least one or two years’ experience first. If what he says is true, then it’s impossible for part one architecture candidates to secure themselves a job – a first opportunity – in the workplace. Take the Accor Design Awards, for example, which concluded a few weeks ago and has since become one of our most-read articles this month. Can an industry that is fuelled by innovation afford to lose the raw talent that was so successfully incubated in that global campaign? Without giving these students a chance, there is little hope.

    And then, of course, for anyone who has started a new job during the pandemic will understand, if students have been fortunate enough to secure roles over the last year, the opportunity to make a good, personable impression by meeting their co-workers and building internal working relationships has been erased and replaced with social distancing restrictions that have forced the industry to work from home – no wonder why students are losing hope in the system.

    Recognising the struggle that young, talented designers and architects are going through, Hotel Designs has proudly teamed up with NEWH – UK Chapter to facilitate a handful of meaningful and authentic conversations between them and individuals who are at top of the pyramid within their own studio. We are handing over the microphone for the students to lead the interview. Going beyond a PR-washing opportunity, these interviews will allow us to hear what young designers and architects want to know, as well as given them the voice to share their concerns with leading figures in hospitality and hotel design. Put simply, we are giving them the power – and the platform – to share their narrative.

    Our first interview in this series, between young architect James Ingram and James Dilley, Director, Jestico + Whiles, goes live next week. Stay tuned…

    Editor, Hotel Designs

    Hamish Kilburn / 16.06.2021

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