"You only need your first ‘yes’, so be patient"

Architecture & Design

We spoke with is Juliana Ribeiro a skilled migrant who is a graduate as architect in Brazil currently living and working for a private company in Hobart, Tasmania. 

Tell us about your work

I have a passion for minimalist and tiny house movements as alternative expressions of sustainable lifestyles. I have been in Australia for 4 years now, 2 of them in Tasmania, and loving it. I got my first job in architecture in Australia in January this year and I have been there for 6 months now. It is a small practice in Hobart CBD with 6 professionals sharing a common space. I work very closely with the director, a senior architect, and the other 3 graduate architects, and everyone is very experienced and supportive.

We do a lot of projects for public and private schools, housing projects, and also a few clinics and residence renovations.

  • many different projects going on at the same time
  • getting involved with a variety of jobs
  • Always working under a lot of pressure.
  • differences from my experience back in Brazil
  • getting to do a lot of drafting
  • participating in meetings with clients and engineers

What was the biggest challenge and how did you deal with it?

Communication is probably the biggest challenge for me. You have that huge responsibility for what you’re doing, so you have to make sure every information you get is correct, express your ideas clearly, and speak up when necessary.

So, every time I have to speak on the phone with builders, consultants, council, and representatives, or go on meetings, I try to prepare myself and take some notes to make sure I know what to say and how to express my ideas.

I have also been trying to read more texts in English and listen to podcasts related to architecture to improve my vocabulary. Grammarly is also a great app to help with writing emails and documents.

How did you find out about it?

I was working in a café for one year and there I got the chance to meet many locals. So after a while, I started mentioning my background in casual conversations with regular customers.

I think networking is very important especially in Tasmania. So, I would recommend someone looking for a job in architecture to visit the Tasmanian Institute of Architects, tell them your story and ask to receive their newsletter. They are very supportive and may inform you about some good opportunities.

Another idea is to keep an eye on the events organized by Emerging Architects and Graduates in Tasmania (EmAGN Australian Institute of Architects in Tasmania) as they are a great opportunity to meet people and get involved in the local architect’s community.

How did you apply?

One of the interviews I went was for an Engineers and Planner’s office. The interview was great but both parties understood I wasn’t a good fit because my main interest and experience were Architecture rather than Urban Planning. So, I didn’t get the job, but after a few weeks, they referred me to my boss who was looking for a graduate architect at that time.

How did you convince them you had the skills to do the job?

I think it was a good idea to print my portfolio and to take it with me to my interview to support my speech. The portfolio helped me when speaking about the projects I’ve done in the past, to show my abilities in design and architectural representation, and what I could do with the softwares I use. Even if you have already sent the portfolio by email, I think most people are too busy to look at them carefully enough and it pays off to bring a copy with you and leave it with them at the end of the interview.

I believe it also helped me to study the business I was applying to, understand their projects, and demonstrate proactivity and enthusiasm to learn.

What did you learn at this job that you took to your next job?

This is still my first job here in Australia, and I am learning new things each day. But in the future when I feel it is time to move on for something new, I hope I’ll take with me a much better understanding of the local industry: the construction methods, local suppliers and materials, the Australian Standards for drafting and documentation, and also some knowledge on Contract Administration.

What did you learn about yourself doing this job?

It may sound a bit cliché, but I learned that I am capable to do absolutely anything. What we don’t know, we can learn with time and patience, we just need the motivation.

So, I feel I’ve been improving my confidence in myself every day. Because we come from another country, sometimes we tend to think we are not good enough, or that have to wait until our English is perfect, or until we study this or that software. But I believe that businesses are also interested in motivated and creative professionals with the ability to adapt and that’s where we stand out.

What tip would you give job seekers from other backgrounds eager to get their first job in Tasmania?

I would say that networking is a must in Tasmania. Go to as many events as you can, and get involved with the local community in your industry. Talk to people, listen to them and show you are interested.

Also, make sure you have a good portfolio or CV that expresses the knowledge you have, and remember to ask someone to proofread it. Show enthusiasm and motivation to learn.

It is sometimes hard when you are looking for your first job in your area because you may get a few no’s before you have a yes. But you only need your first ‘yes’, so be patient with yourself throughout that process. We already have the determination to start all over again, so know that the experience and knowledge we bring with us are valuable and unique.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

About MRC Tas

Migrant Resource Centre Tasmania (MRC Tas) is a not-for-profit organisation that has been supporting people from migrant and humanitarian backgrounds to settle successfully in Tasmania since 1979.

About Migrant network tasmania

Migrant Network Tasmania draws on the goodwill, stories and tips of migrants and the wider community to help fellow migrants to establish lives and careers in Tasmania.