Interview with Xumin Wang, intern architect on starting her career at Stantec and her advice to architect graduates
Having graduated recently from the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL) at the University of Calgary, Xumin is now creating her career path as an architect intern with Stantec’s team. Here’s her advice to architect students on the road to starting their careers.
What made you want to study architecture?
My interest in architecture was sparked by a journey to Louvre when I was a teenager. I was amazed by the large glass and metal Louvre Pyramid. After eight years in post-secondary, I found that studying architecture soon became a lifestyle—it’s like taking your daily nutrition pills. I gave myself access to a broad range of views and skills from the first day of entering ‘the world of architecture’. I have mixed feelings about my long and arduous degree of architecture finally coming to an end, but that feeling from the Louvre will always continue in my architectural journey.
Why did you choose Stantec when you graduated?
Architects do not get bored working at Stantec. I’ve had opportunities to work with professional colleagues with different backgrounds on a variety of projects, which is the best way to understand something I did not recognize in my master’s and to create my own path as an architect. Everyone here shares the same vision and is dedicated to the mission, and it truly is a family environment where everybody is there for each other. I am proud to work in such welcoming and efficient place directly after graduating.
What are three different projects you have enjoyed working on since you started at Stantec?
During my first week at Stantec, I jumped into the design group for the EuroVelo 6 Stops Architecture Competition. This competition asked the participants to design rest stop cabins for long-distance cyclists along the EuroVelo 6 route, which is a 15 km cycle path from the Atlantic to the Black Sea. The cabins were required to reflect the European identity. I helped with the final phase renderings and elevations for this project. This is a great competition of meeting wonderful colleagues as a new employee and we had a great team work. Although we didn’t win, this was a great experience of joining in an official competition.
A great learning opportunity for me was the Recreation Design Guidelines project. This was a good practice to assist the City of Calgary with standards of design for new and renovated recreation facilities. The project’s intent was to address major common items to guide the City and design team towards best practices, standards, and to document lessons learned on past projects. I was in the design team to develop various spaces within the design standards document. In this case, it was a good project to learn and address some design features in the facilities that I had never touched before.
A recent project I worked on was O’Brien Lake West School where Stantec collaborated with our clients to create a destination school that will showcase key elements of learning environments in the twenty-first century. I assisted in the concept design and schematic design of the school, including programming, site design, material analysis, and conceptual models. This school project is currently in progress with design development and is aiming to achieve a LEED V4 silver certification.
What do you like best about your career?
To be an intern architect at Stantec is an opportunity to create and develop big ideas. Architecture as an addiction, and that is its beauty—I am constantly experiencing new things until the actual design. It’s exciting to go to work every morning! It is always rewarding to seeing my designs come to a real life, which is what I enjoy about being an intern architect!
What career advice do you have for architect graduates?
Education does not end after graduation. There are so many unknowns as you graduate from architecture school and enter the workforce. Architectural firms, like Stantec, are good places that are willing to listen to you, so do not be afraid to speak up and present your creative ideas. Before you apply to any firm, make sure to design your career and do a five-year career plan—this will be really helpful to your career path. Develop your unique skills and abilities as soon as possible to demonstrate how they make you a better employee and contributor. If you are working towards being a registered architect, take a deep breath and be ready for a continuous self-education.