Guest Post: The eye-opening experience of being a job shadow | Work of Arts
Guest Post: The eye-opening experience of being a job shadow | Work of Arts

Guest Post: The eye-opening experience of being a job shadow

Arts grad Gabrielle Argent learned valuable lessons and had her confidence restored during an architecture job shadow experience

Guest posts are a feature of WOA blog that present the experiences and viewpoints of Arts students, alumni, staff and faculty. The views and opinions expressed within these posts are solely those of the authors.


I’ve been out of university 253 days. Not to be specific or anything. Like many other students, I remember a time at the U of A when all I could think about was finishing school and being relieved of all the stress and worry that came with studying, doing assignments and writing exams.

But now that I am a graduate, I can say that being out of university has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with. For me, being a good student significantly contributed to my self worth. Achieving success on my assignments, papers and exams provided me with a sense of validation that I was “good enough.”

Now out in the real world, the goals I had planned for myself this year have not gone exactly as planned. My aim to get a job in an architecture-related field has been a bust, I find myself constantly worrying about my grad school application for fall and I am poorer than I have ever been, thanks to my student loans.

But I have not given up! And if anything, being a student at the U of A has taught me that the greatest factors in your success are your desire to keep learning and the ability to believe in yourself. This is the reason I chose to participate in the U of A Career Centre‘s Job Shadow Week over the last several days. Coming from a background in art and design, and with a specific interest in architecture, I was lucky enough to be chosen to follow Craig Dorward, an architect who works at a firm called NORR Architects Engineers Planners here in Edmonton.

Being a student at the U of A has taught me that the greatest factors in your success are your desire to keep learning and the ability to believe in yourself.

While participating in the job shadow, I was able to accompany Craig on his daily tasks, which I learned are very extensive and require a great deal of well-rounded knowledge. What I learned is that being an architect requires a vast array of skills, from artistic talent to a knowledge of science and math, and even a mastering of building code and law. We looked at building contracts, design software, design schematics, sketches, building code, regulations and proposals; interacted with his other colleagues; and sent emails to coordinate with clients, contractors and engineers. At lunch, we met with more of his colleagues from newstudio architecture inc. and discussed the process of applying for grad school, as well as their experiences as architects. Towards the end of the day, Craig took me to a construction site to see one of the buildings that NORR had designed. It was great to meet with the contractor, walk through the building and learn more about the construction process.

IMG_2291Having come into the job shadow with a few preconceived notions about what the job of an architect entails, I was humbled to learn a few lessons from Craig that helped me, and I am sure will help others, to trust more in the journey rather than the destination.


1. Persistence is key. To become an architect, for example, takes at least six years of education, three years of interning and four exams before you actually become certified — and the learning process doesn’t stop there. No matter what, if you have a goal in mind, know what the expectations are, do all you can to achieve them and never give up.

2. Have a well-rounded knowledge in the field you want to pursue. Just like I described above, architecture is a career that requires knowledge in many different areas. But many careers are like this, and I’ve learned that you must be open and actively seek out new ways to think about and study what you love to do.

3. Respect those around you and take the time to learn from others. While following Craig, he showed me that respectful interaction with people in other fields such as contracting or engineering allowed for greater comradery and ultimately, a better outcome that will benefit society as a whole.


In conclusion, I hope that anyone reading this is inspired to participate in U of A Job Shadow Week. Not only did it teach me a few valuable lessons about my career prospects and life after university, it also influenced me personally by giving me the confidence to know that as long as I believe in myself, I am capable of accomplishing anything.

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About Gabrielle Argent

Gabrielle Argent

Gabrielle Argent is an alumnus of the U of A with a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in the History of Art, Design & Visual Culture. Since completing her undergraduate thesis entitled “Conceiving the Role of the Architect in Constant’s New Babylon,” Gabrielle has taken an interest in architecture, the politics of urban space and the ways in which architects in the modern age are attempting to rethink their professional roles. If you happen to catch Gabrielle at an odd time when she’s not worrying about applying to grad school, you can find her working on art projects, cooking or spending time outdoors.