Employee Spotlight – Sultan Solak

By Vivienne Conway

Sultan joined us as our first Architecture Degree Apprentice back in September 2021. Since then she has made positive headway in her course at the University of Portsmouth as well as making great progress within her working environment here at HGP.

It’s a completely different style of learning that Sultan has decided to embark on compared to the traditional architecture education route and requires a different commitment and work ethic to keep on top of her academic requirements while managing her learning via project tasks in the office. There is no doubt that there is a learning curve here for both Sultan and HGP in our responsibility to support, develop and encourage her education. We caught up with Sultan to check in to see how things are going 6 months on.

You have been with HGP for 6 months now, has your idea of what working in architecture is like changed at all?

Being with HGP for 6 months and working on a variety of different projects has made me realise how much teamwork is involved, more than I have ever imagined!
It is a very collaborative industry, and it means that we can all learn from each other as we progress through a project, not just between colleagues, but with clients too.
It is very interesting in planning projects to see each person’s input and how everyone’s ideas are built up to produce a final design.

Now that you are getting into the details of study and having to manage your tasks and time at work, do you feel deciding to choose the Degree Apprentice route is still the right one?

Working in architecture as well as studying can be a challenge. I have found that the work I have to produce is different for both at this point in time.
At university I have complete control of my projects and get to lead my own design and get to be experimental with my creativity. At work I rotate around different projects and pick up skills that I then use in my university projects, which in turn means that for me, I learn a lot faster.

Sometimes, what is being taught in university, I have already encountered at work at some level, so doing the apprenticeship has been very beneficial in giving me background knowledge.
At the moment, it is easy to separate the two and the amount of support I receive from both the university and HGP make it very easy to not only ask for help if and when I need it, it also makes managing the two a lot easier. Choosing to study through a degree apprenticeship is definitely the right route for me.

What challenges, if any, have you encountered so far as part of studying for your degree while working?

Managing my time is the most challenging thing I’ve had to work through because often when I am not working, I have to make time to complete my university work.
During times when I have deadlines for university, I often make an effort to better manage my time, and utilise the Agile working strategy that HGP has in place and I know they are very understanding about study time which is great!

What skills have you picked up in the first half of your first year?

I have developed my drawing skills on multiple types of software such as Revit, ArchiCAD, Photoshop and InDesign. I am most proud of the development of my Photoshop skills. I have participated in a large masterplan planning project which meant I got to learn more about how photoshop works and allowed me to produce street scenes of our design proposals for the clients to review. It has been very rewarding to look at the work I produced with the team and see how far I have come in the last 3 months.

What do you feel are the benefits of working in an environment like HGP while you are studying architecture?

One of the biggest benefits of working in an environment like HGP while I am studying is that I have support every day and everyone is very helpful, so I never worry when I don’t understand anything at university because I know that I can always receive the help that I need at HGP.
This is very important to me as I only have one day a week at university, which means that if I were to solely rely on waiting to get feedback from tutors the following week during my time at university, I could fall behind. I also believe getting used to the office environment from the beginning of my architecture degree is shaping me to become better suited for the environment for when I graduate.