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In the latest of our trainee stories series, we meet Joe Starkey, who reached the end of his trainee journey when he became one of Arc Partnership’s qualified architects in 2017.

Hi Joe, what do you do at Arc Partnership?

I qualified as an architect last year, after ten years of studying alongside my full-time job. I must admit it wasn’t a career path for the faint hearted, and I’m really glad to be finally qualified! Before I graduated I was working at Arc as an architect’s assistant.

What drew you to such a demanding course?

I left school with a lot of qualifications but not much idea what I wanted to do. I’m from Nottingham and I actually came across my future career by chance when I took a temporary job in the Property Design Services Department at Nottinghamshire County Council, back in 2005.

I was lucky enough to be offered an apprenticeship and then the opportunity to take my career further by studying architecture. I count myself extremely lucky to have received funding and initial day release from NCC and I’ll always be grateful for the great start that gave me. When the NCC team became Arc Partnership, I made the move too.

How did you balance your studies with a busy day job?

Good question! Architecture has a reputation as one of the most difficult courses there is, so to succeed you need to be strong minded, determined and extremely well organised – even more so if you take the route I did.

Throughout the whole course I worked full time and studied part time at The University of Nottingham. Keeping up took a lot of late nights, but it meant I could put what I learnt into practice straight away in a real working environment. It definitely helped me understand what I was learning and do better in my studies.

How has your role changed now you’ve qualified?

I’ve got total responsibility for my work now, whereas before everything I did had to be checked by a qualified architect. That’s a good feeling.

What’s it like to be part of the Arc Partnership team?

Well, I’ve been with some of my colleagues for over a decade, so there’s a lot of strong, joined-up working. Having all the skilled professions together under one roof is invaluable and really good practice in the industry.

I’ve been fortunate to work on some interesting public sector projects over the years too, and I’ve already started developing a specialism in primary school design through projects like Hillocks, Kingsway and Mapplewells primaries.

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You’ve achieved a lot in the last few years. What are your ambitions for the future?

I’d like to use my skills and knowledge to shape the business as it grows, in particular with regard to building information modelling (BIM) and office standards. It would be great to work with more private sector clients and experience a wider range of projects too.

These are exciting times for Arc Partnership. It’s still a relatively new business and I’m looking forward to giving it my full support in whatever way I can.

When it comes to studying, I’ve got my RIBA qualification now and that’s really the top of the tree for the moment. One day I’d love to see my work in the Architects’ Journal. That’s a big ambition for any architect. But for now, it’ll be nice to take a break from studying – for a while at least!

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