Estimated reading time: 4 min
The following is a first person piece from Konstantinos Vlachoulis regarding his six month ERASMUS placement with RMJM Italia in 2016. Konstantinos showed incredible willing and enthusiasm throughout his time with RMJM Italia and we’re sure his experience will serve as a guide for those taking up similar positions with RMJM in the future.
A GIF of Konstantinos’ sketchbook completed on his placement with RMJM Italia
My name is Konstantinos and I’m an architecture student from Greece, currently on ERASMUS placement with RMJM Italia in Rome. I’m still not quite sure how I made it here as it is very difficult to be accepted to work at the international studio of your dreams. Maybe it was my persistence, my education or my previous experience in Italy that helped me. Either way, when I was told that RMJM decided to give me chance, I was ready to make the most out of it. Now that this experience is coming to an end, I would like to share some thoughts with all the students who, like me, are making their first steps in the profession.
The initial step from education into the start of your career is, for many, a daunting one. This step into the unknown differs completely from any experience that comes via university or college. Nevertheless, for some of us this switch to the working world is more painless than previously imagined if the people we encounter in this foreign environment understand the difficulty confronting the student. The studio of RMJM Italia is made up entirely of people like this, people with great understanding, empathy and intuition who immediately put me at ease. The notion that ‘the first time is never the best’ has never been so wrong. I could not have asked for anything more.
Working side by side with my tutor, Nihar Tana, the team, and the principals, Simone Cellitti and Roberto Tripi, I have come to realize the importance of finding the perfect harmony between architecture and interior designs. Whether you design a skyscraper, a museum, an office or a house, the person who will use the building has to be always in your mind. I have learnt to be curious and never give anything for granted. I’ve learned that getting lost in the city to discover its complicated character it’s the best way of inspiring any young architect with a sense of wonder.
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. So, after working on placement at one of the leading architect studios in the world this is the advice I would pass on to anyone who finds themselves in a similar position:
- Make yourself available to every project and every stage of the architectural process.
- Keep an open mind. An architecture studio is a place of great debate and being open to different ideas will only help you grow as an architect.
- Work in detail. The level of skill and detail that I have witnessed from initial sketched regarding the concept to the final presentation was inspiring.
- Be disposable to new tasks. These will challenge you but they will make you better.
- Demand feedback. Seeking the opinions of those with more experience is something that should not be taken for granted. The feedback I have received will stay with me for a long time.
- Keep a schedule. This will allow you to analyze your working pattern and allow you to see where you can improve.
The opportunity to undertake a work placement is one I cannot recommend enough. There are countless articles that have been written on this subject and they always mention how important preparation is. This is true. But more important than preparation is the having the willingness and desire to embrace the full experience on offer. You should, if possible, connect with colleagues, the city and the studio itself which you will discover is a living entity itself. If not, the primary purpose of the work placement will not be totally accomplished. Now is the time to finish your portfolio, contact the studio you want to work in and hope that you are given the opportunity to glimpse your future. Oh, and don’t forget your sketchbook to document the incredible journey.