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Academic Peer Mentor – Robert Allcoat

Stage 4 – MArch

Last year I mentored a number of Stage 3 students. The first point that struck me about the Academic Peer Mentoring scheme was the objectivity required; architecture, however, is a very subjective course, especially when it comes to design projects. Striking a balance between the two was quite a challenge.

From the offset most of the mentees had many questions, both about the year ahead and the Part I year out. To me this demonstrated the mentees’ curiosity and their desire to find out more. I had been through the same course and had had similar projects to them, so I appreciated the type of questions they might have and the value of extra help.

Throughout the year we covered a variety of topics and, from presentation techniques and styles to specific project questions, advice with CVs and portfolios for their coming year out to the fundamentals of line-weights. Quite often a question would put me on the spot, to which I would not know the answer; in that situation you simply have to be honest and say you do not know, or try to help them find the answer later on.

It is the first year the School of Architecture has been part of the mentoring scheme and I think it has worked very well. It not only provides the mentees with another outlet to discuss project work and ideas, and to put forward specific questions; it gives them support from someone on the same level with them — albeit with a little more experience – to hopefully guide them without the pressure of a student-tutor relationship.

From the perspective as a mentor it has helped me to think of different ways to explain something that might – at first glance – seem evident to me, reinforcing the importance of clear communication. I appreciate how important and valuable it can be to discuss ideas and topics with someone who perhaps is not so familiar with your project work, and that they may offer a completely different perspective on it. The mentoring scheme is certainly something I would like to participate in again next year.

Mentee: Charlotte Middleton

The mentoring scheme set up by the university was invaluable during my third year in the school. With the uncertainty about life after university, the mentor was there to answer questions and reassure from first-hand experience. I received help in improving my CV and portfolio, strengthening my application for Part 1 placements. During the year, it was useful to talk to a student who had already been through the projects and was able to advise on time-keeping, organisation and aid with the designs themselves. The scheme has been extremely helpful for me and I shall definitely be signing up as a mentor to give back to it.

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