Career Bites

Career Bites is currently focusing on Art and Design careers. This week’s Career Bites speakers were Charlotte Roberts, a kitchen designer, and Jenny Chen, an architect and Westlake alumna who graduated from WGHS in 2010.

How did you decide to choose this career?

Jenny chose architecture because she enjoyed graphic design (DVC) at school and loved physics, maths, and the sciences. She wanted to do something that helped the community and wrote this in her application to Auckland University’s Bachelor of Architecture course. “It is really rewarding because some of my family members have had operations in the hospital that I helped design,” explains Jenny. 

Like Jenny, Charlotte chose Interior Design because she also enjoyed graphic design at school and wanted to do something creative. 

What kind of education or training did your career require? 

Jenny completed a Bachelor of Architectural Studies at the University of Auckland, which took three years. To become a practising architect, typically, you must complete the Master of Architecture or a similar programme and register with the New Zealand Registered Architects Board (NZRAB). Charlotte completed a two-year Diploma in Interior Design at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology. Charlotte is a Platinum Designer, (an industry accreditation that assures quality) and a Certified Kitchen Designer. 

What skills do you need in your daily work?

The two key skills Jenny and Charlotte use every day are maths and communication skills. Maths is crucial for measurements in the design process, and communication skills, such as listening and understanding, enable them to satisfy their client’s needs. Other skills they use are software skills, such as Photoshop and Illustrator, and photography. The ability to pick up new software is also important. “I didn’t have software experience until I started my Architecture degree,” says Jenny, “but I used YouTube to learn how to use Rhino (a 3D modelling software), and it was easy to learn that way.” 

Describe a typical day or week

A typical day or week for Charlotte involves meeting with clients, working at home on designs, and communicating with suppliers. Charlotte used to have her own showroom, which was a six-day-a-week commitment. “I love being self-employed,” says Charlotte. It means I can work from home and have flexibility. Sometimes, I have a lot of work to do and might work on a weekend, but other times, I can take the whole afternoon off.”

Jenny’s typical week involves working with designers, the council, landscapers, various engineers including mechanical, construction managers and the many specialists involved in large construction projects. “At the moment, I am working on a commercial project,” says Jenny, “so every project is completely different, I have designed a hospital theatre, sports stadiums, apartments; there are so many different types of architecture.” 

What do you love the most about your job?

Charlotte loves being self-employed and having the flexibility to work from home so she can have time with her family. Jenny loves creating something that benefits the community.

Jenny Chen (left) and Charlotte Roberts (right).

Written by: Nehansa Wijewardana 10OBR and Anika Bayer 10AMZ