Scholar Profiles: Sarah Burton and Cox Architecture

16 January 2020

Scope Global is appointed by the Australian Department of Education and Training (DET) to deliver the Commonwealth Scholarships Program for South Australia. Our team works to support increased employment in South Australian growth sectors, such as defence and advanced manufacturing. Last year, Scope Global placed approximately 80 scholars in industry internships that are designed to enhance scholars’ study experiences, improve their employment outcomes and support industries experiencing skills shortages.

COX Architecture was one of our 2019 host institutions and has shown great support for the program.

COX is a design-focused contemporary architectural practice with an ethos of supporting the public life of Australia’s cities. The multidisciplinary practice brings together talented architects, urban planners, interior designers, researchers and digital visualisation experts, making it an ideal place for students and interns to gain experience and learn.

Over the past 12 months, COX has placed four interns through the Australian Government’s Commonwealth Scholarship Program for South Australia, with a fifth internship already planned.

For COX Associate Orr Shallev, nurturing future talent is an integral part of the practice’s ethos.
‘We do it because we think it’s a good thing, and because it’s mutually beneficial, says Orr. ‘Longer intern programs like this are really useful. We get to sample the talent that’s coming out – and spend four or five weeks with someone who, more often than not, is really useful to have around.’

Interns complete real work. They gain a lot of skills when they’re drafting drawings, modelling designs, interacting and collaborating with a team, and contributing to real projects. Feedback from them has been really positive.

COX’s motto, ‘by the many, for the many’, underpins its collaborative and inclusive approach to let the best ideas emerge, no matter the size or scope of the project.

“We try to create a culture where everyone can speak up and every voice is welcome and can influence,” says Orr.

“Previous interns have made their mark on projects. Our first intern was involved in modelling a number of bridge and building projects, and now they’ve been built. The end result is very similar to what he modelled.”

All five interns are from the University of South Australia’s undergraduate and postgraduate architecture programs. In some instances, the Commonwealth Scholarship Program gives students hands-on industry experience before they would have had access through their course.

Third-year Bachelor of Architectural Studies student Sarah Burton is one week into her internship at COX.

Scholar Sarah Burton collaborating with associate Orr Shallev

“I’ve learned heaps and it’s completely different, in a good way, to what I thought,” says Sarah. “For example, there’s so much more going on behind the scenes than what I expected.”

Working in a collaborative and multidisciplinary team has also been a new experience.

“The way everyone works collaboratively in a team – I’m always seeing people helping each other with projects. COX has been much more collaborative than I expected, as uni learning is more about working by yourself.”

Gaining hands-on experience through this internship has reinforced Sarah’s learning in formal settings. It has also provided motivation and assurance about her decision to pursue architecture as a career.

“For me, it reiterates my passion for why I want to be in this field,” says Sarah.

It’s really nice that you can work on designs that appear complex, and then see it come together. It’s been an amazing opportunity and an eye-opening learning experience.

Being awarded the Commonwealth Scholarship has opened opportunities for Sarah that would not have otherwise been possible.

“Coming from a family that has struggled with money, I can’t put into words how much this scholarship has helped me with my studies.”

“One of the reasons I studied architecture was because I want to be able to create spaces that are affordable, but are still nice, remembering that people still have to live in these places.”

“The whole experience of winning a scholarship has helped me to gain more confidence. It’s meant I can really focus on my study and I hope that, combined with my internship, it’ll help me to have an edge when I finish my studies and look for work.”

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