Erin Anderson – BSc (Hons) Architectural Technology

Having had a personal bereavement shortly before starting University, Erin Anderson feels extremely proud to have successfully made it through her four years of study and to be starting her first graduate job as an Assistant Architectural Technician.

22 year-old Erin from Wick in Caithness, is graduating with a 2:1 BSc Hons Architectural Technology from The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture & Built Environment.

Erin left 6th form at Wick High School, initially unclear which direction she wanted to go, University or an apprenticeship. She was turned down for a local job, which hurt at the time, but looking back, Erin feels it was probably a blessing in disguise.  

With the support of ASPIRENorth, Erin received help with her personal statement and advice on the University application process. She says this was a huge help, particularly for people like her from up North, as they typically tend to stay and live at home, as opposed to moving away for University. Upon receiving her first conditional offer, Erin knew from her reaction and the happy tears she experienced, that it was what she wanted to do.

At school, Erin had enjoyed anything that involved drawing, whether that be art or design and manufacture. Her favourite subject by far was Graphic Communication, and so when applying to university, Erin knew that technical drawing was a subject she wanted to follow. 

“Initially, I was most interested in studying architecture however I was aware that my qualifications may not be enough to get in, so I applied for architectural technology as well. I attended an applicant’s day for architectural technology and that sealed the deal for me. I was also really impressed by the facilities at the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and the RGU’s leafy campus was one of my favourites from my University visits whilst at school.”

Shortly before coming to study at RGU, Erin’s mum sadly passed away as she explains: “I made the move to University roughly five months after losing my mum to cancer. She knew I had applied to RGU and I was lucky enough to tell her in person that I’d gotten my place on the course, but unfortunately she won’t be there to see me graduate.

“During my uni career I hit a number of obstacles, mostly relating to the fact that I threw myself in at the deep end to distract myself from grieving. I thought about her every time I struggled with an assignment, every time I felt nervous walking into a lecture hall five minutes late, and every time I got a good grade (some of course, were not so good).

“My dad always said that had she still been with us she’d be down visiting, cleaning up for me, batch cooking me dinners etc. But in a way, it forced me to learn for myself how to survive, even if that did mean burning mince to the bottom of all my pans and somehow managing to do my washing wrong nearly every single time.

“My mum was my biggest fan and never stopped pushing my brother and I to do our best. I believe that the strength I needed to get through the last four years came from her and I’m proud that I made it to the end, not just for myself but for her and my dad.”

Despite her personal challenges, Erin says she feels extremely proud to have completed her four years of study, particularly during the pandemic.

“The move to Aberdeen was a big one for me at a crucial time in my life, but it was hands down the best thing I’ve ever done and it has given me a huge amount confidence. I’m proud of the perseverance, both from myself and my classmates, during our course. We overcame all the obstacles that Covid threw at us, including manoeuvring our way around Teams and working on group projects when we all lived in totally different places.

“It was hard for my classmates and I to maintain a bond throughout our studies during the pandemic but the staff at RGU were fantastic. Our lecturer remained positive and organised quizzes etc which encouraged us to keep in touch. We lost a lot of time we would have spent together in studio, but I think the time spent at home, made us value the last year we had all together back on campus.”

Erin says her final year at RGU was definitely a highlight. Despite the stress of deadlines, she felt her class became a lot closer and the lunchtimes spent together allowed her to escape the demands of a busy schedule.

“Once back on campus, it was great to get back to studio, particularly in the run up to deadlines including our Scott Sutherland End of Year Show, which was the first in-person exhibition in three years. We all became part of each other’s ‘everyday’ which I don’t think I had truly appreciated until university was over. Days spent in studio were always my favourite, when we could work alongside each other, bouncing ideas off one another. Many of us attended the Scott Sutherland Ball this year, held in Aberdeen, which we all enjoyed, and this gave us a real farewell.”

“I also played netball socially at RGU which was a huge part of my uni experience. I finally managed to attend the Blues Award Winners Ball in 2022, after waiting 3 years, which was a a huge highlight for me and a real celebration for all those involved in RGU Sports Clubs.”

Whilst at University, Erin benefitted from RGU’s Career Support & Advice Service who helped restructure her CV. Erin said: “I found the RGU Career Support Service very accessible. One career adviser in particular, Lorraine Amies, was an absolute star. She was easy to talk to and really knew her stuff. I know this support has given me confidence and helped me prepare for my career after University.”

Now that Erin is graduating, she reflects fondly on her achievements at RGU. “I know that graduation will be a proud day for my whole family – despite being the only one who was actually studying, the support I have received from my family has been crucial and I know, without it, the road to graduation would have been a lot bumpier.

“I feel that the structure of my course has prepared me well for working in practice, specifically the simulated module and the modules dealing with professional documents such as letters to clients and meeting agendas.

"Aside from academic side, I feel I’ve gained a huge amount of confidence and people skills which will invaluable as I enter the working world. Our days in class weren’t what I expected uni to be. In my head, I thought I’d be sat in lecture halls for hours on end, but it was quite the opposite. Our classes were completely interactive and allowed us to ask the questions and share ideas, similar to how my current office functions. I’m grateful to have studied in a setting like this.

“I’m incredibly proud of myself and my course mates and am so grateful we’re getting a proper graduation so we can all spend time together.”

Erin recently took a job as an Assistant Architectural Technician at Avant Homes in Stirling and is looking forward to what’s to come. “My new job is another big, but exciting move. If it weren’t for my course leader and his support, I doubt I would have been offered the opportunity at all. I owe him and the staff at the Scott Sutherland School a million thanks.

“Since starting my new job, I’ve really enjoyed my experience in practice. My work colleagues have been massively welcoming and the work itself has been challenging, but in a good way. I’m building on what I’ve learned in the last four years at the Scott Sutherland School and I’m excited to see what is to come.”

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