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Words by Madeleine Steele from Hames Sharley

Why did you choose architecture as a career?

As a child, I enjoyed drawing house plans and playing games requiring problem-solving to make things fit or to compose a picture. I grew up with parents who took us around Australia on family holidays. We were always going somewhere different - even just to walk the dog.

This developed my curiosity about cities and how they’re constructed, but by the time I began studying architecture, I equally wanted to bring in my other interests like sports, maths, art, languages, writing and research.

Now, my design career enables me to draw upon all of my skills. It’s so much more diverse than I ever imagined. I now think differently, respond to things differently. I consider the bigger picture and contextual response to every project.

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Where was your first architecture job?

I approached Hames Sharley as a final-year student in 2017, after seeing a project of theirs I liked in Architecture Australia magazine. At the time, I was also an elite track cyclist and my life was very busy with competing and training.

As I began my design career, Hames Sharley was always highly flexible. I was able to train as well as develop my skills across a variety of portfolios, so I really had the best of both worlds. At Hames Sharley, I was always learning and was offered challenges that helped me develop as a design professional, as well as opportunities to give back in meaningful ways. Because of this, I’ve never had a reason to look elsewhere.

When I stepped back from cycling, it was a lot harder than I thought, but Hames Sharley was again so supportive. Today, I have a great balance between work and life, including playing the reserves with the SANFL women’s league. In my work, I was very proud to be promoted to Associate last year and then Studio Leader in April 2023.

Best piece of advice you could give to job seekers who are currently looking/applying for roles?

I encourage applicants to Invest your time and energy into a well-crafted and considered application. For brands like Hames Sharley, we exist to enable communities to flourish, so we want to learn more about who you are. I’d suggest applicants avoid being too clinical, because we want to get to know you as a person and learn more about your passions and what you care about.

For example, in my case, I found out Hames Sharley was attracted by my elite cycling background when I applied, with the parallels of my mentality as a sportsperson and ability to strive for excellence.

I would also encourage applicants to get to know a business – websites and social media pages can give you a great insight into a business’ values and what makes them ‘tick’. It’s important to find a community of people that are aligned to your values and what you care about – I think these days, thankfully, people are wanting a higher purpose and to contribute to a bigger picture that goes beyond any role or organisation. As part of the recruitment process, you can then use this opportunity to ensure you’re both aligned and you take every opportunity to make a good first impression so they know you also share the same values.

Communicating professionally and respectfully with everyone you interact with along the recruitment process is also critical and a reflection of your values – ensure you make a good first impression, so you can show that you’re a good fit for the team.

At Hames Sharley, this is important to us. We’re a community of creative professionals who truly want to ‘enable communities to flourish’ – this is more than a tagline, but really explains why we do what we do. At Hames Sharley, we want to find people that will help us achieve this, one community at a time.

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The biggest mistake you see applicants make with their job applications?

I would say, not using the opportunity of your application to express yourself graphically. We work in a highly visual field, so your application should include graphics and font that represent the unique you and inspire us to want to see more of what you can do.

At the end of the day, we’re visual people who communicate through an artistic lens. Whether that’s through an actual design or through other design-related forms like PowerPoint or proposals. If we communicate well through design-related mediums, we take people on a journey and it reflects on our brand.