From business manager to architecture student

Laura had an established career in business in Colombia before she decided to follow her dream to be an architect and make the move to Australia. Read about her journey so far.

Laura at MSD
Where and when did you complete your undergraduate study? 
I studied a Bachelor of Business Management from 2009 to 2012 in Bogota, Colombia, and then went straight into my career.

I am a business manager so before studying at the University of Melbourne, I worked at Scotiabank and other financial institutions creating credit projects for agriculture.

In 2018 I applied for an important scholarship and also started to prepare to apply for the Master of Architecture at Melbourne Uni which involved taking one semester of a Bachelor of Architecture programme in Colombia and also a high diploma in Strategic Management of Marketing.

Why did you choose to undertake your the Master of Architecture at The University of Melbourne?
Initially, I decided I wanted to become an architect and I wanted to study in an excellent university. The main reason I chose the University of Melbourne was that it is the best university in Australia and one of the best in the world for studying architecture. Moreover, the University’s Melbourne Model of study allowed me to enter the Master of Architecture program even though my undergraduate degree was in business.

I also decided to come to Australia because it’s a great country, I have family here and I would get support during my time studying.

What has been the most enjoyable aspect of the program so far? 
I have found the whole experience very enriching and joyful. I really like the program, the topics, all the facilities and opportunities that the university provides and also all the challenges that architecture represents for me.

Something that is wonderful to me are my classmates just because all our cohort is together, and we have worked together in all our subjects. Working together, getting to know each other and sharing experiences has made everything so meaningful to me. I found that people I’ve met at uni are very special and are willing to help as much as they can, so it’s really nice to get that kind of support, kindness and friendship just from the classroom.

What has been the most challenging aspect?
For me, the biggest challenge has been to get to the same level as my classmates because almost all of them comes from design backgrounds, so they already have so much information that I am just starting to learn. This is very challenging because I have to speed up my learning curve in concepts, software, language and general knowledge to be able to succeed in my subjects.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with so much information going on, a few times I just can’t grasp a particular aspect, but most of the time I am processing information and just trying to learn as much as I can to produce the deliverables of the subjects. It is a very intense process, but I have learned so much in this last three months.

The way business and design are taught and seen is very different. It’s like I have to activate a different part of my brain and use other skills to get into creative processes in architecture.

What is your favourite part about studying at The University of Melbourne? 
The most enjoyable part of my studies has been working in groups with my classmates. We help each other, make connections and learn so much from our daily sharing. Also, the facilities here to support study and create our work like the Fablab, the Design Hall (Baldwin Spencer Building study space for postgraduates), the architecture library and the print room are amazing. It really helps us to be comfortable and more effective in our studies.

How did you find the transition into your graduate studies? 
For me, a little hard just because I come from another background and I speak another language. Before this, I completed a high diploma in Strategic Management of Marketing at graduate level too, so I feel comfortable with the experience.

What did you expect before you came to Melbourne?
I expected that I was going to study in a wonderful university, living in a great city and learning a lot. To be honest, I wasn’t very sure of how everything was going to be, and also I didn’t understand many things because our educational systems are very different, but I feel everything has been better than what I could ever have imagined.

Are you currently participating in any extra-curricular activities?
I am currently part of TEDxUnimelb. At the beginning I planned to join a sports club but this semester has been so busy that I have just focused on my assignments. My plan is to learn as much as I can now (concepts, software, drawings) so I can do some extra things in the coming semesters. I really want to experience all university life has to offer.

How do think your degree will contribute to your career development?
I like architecture and everything you can create, transform and change with it. I think my degree will give me the skills, tools and knowledge I need to be able to propose a project that could add to our communities and people. I see my self in the future designing solutions and integrating my two careers (business and architecture) in several projects.

What are your words of recommendation or encouragement for students who are thinking about studying at The University of Melbourne?
Melbourne Uni has, in my personal opinion, the best academic experience to offer. I have been in other universities and enrolled in different educational systems, and the way I feel studying here is completely amazing. Challenging but amazing! Melbourne Uni gives you all the professors, facilities, rooms and help to make you succeed, but also you will find a great network of students sharing the same dreams and helping each other out all the time.

Interested in studying the Master of Architecture?
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