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Posted on Jun 10, 2016 in SONA Post, Uncategorized, Volunteer

Atelier Red and Black continue their Preparing for Practice Mentorship Program for final year female students

Atelier Red and Black continue their Preparing for Practice Mentorship Program for final year female students


A message from Atelier Red+Black:

In a profession where 40% of women graduates are not being retained long term, what can a single small practice do to become part of the solution? Our answer to this was the Preparing for Practice Mentorship Program which would help guide six final year students into thinking strategically about their future careers. The program format is open to any other practice wishing to actively contribute to this large but fixable problem.   


Insights on the program from 2016 participant Thisuni Welihinda:

I count myself lucky to be one of the six students participating in the Atelier Red+Black Mentorship program for 2016.  This program is designed for final year female architecture students.  The experience has opened my eyes to not only what it takes to be a successful female architect, but also to the reality that architecture (like many professions) is subject to a lack of gender equity.

Sonia Sarangi and Michael Smith started the program in 2015 as a way to give back to the architecture profession after recognising the lack of female architects retained long term in the industry.  The program offers three group sessions, which are followed by an individual session with a mentor as well as tasks geared to help you prepare for the workforce.

In the time that I’ve experienced the program, I’ve gained valuable industry insights that students are not necessarily taught in University.  These include; how to set yourself apart, what to expect in the industry, how a practice works from a business perspective, and importantly how to land a job.  The lessons learnt are useful and the opportunity to ask unlimited, and yes maybe sometimes annoying, questions is time well spent. The sessions lead to engaging conversations with a passionate and enthusiastic group of people and the information is immediately applicable.  What is exceptional about the program is that both Sonia and Michael have offered their knowledge free of charge at the cost of their own time, in a period where education is very expensive.  The results speak for themselves with the first ever cohort from 2015 being now onto bigger and better milestones.  I can only hope to follow.

I have yet to finish the program but I expect to leave feeling pleasantly informed and optimistic about my future prospects.  Atelier Red+Black only ask one thing of their mentees, that each of us give back in the future, by mentoring others for instance.  I hope that this experience as a student will lead to practitioners seeing merit in passing the baton to the next generation.  All of the information on how it is run is available online and you can also view the rationale behind the program. 

Thank you to Michael and Sonia for giving back.  It has been worth every minute spent.