August 22nd, 2014

Last month I braved one of the coldest weekends and rode my bike to some of the participating buildings in Open House Melbourne 2014.  A walk through of Government House was a nice place to start considering I pass by the ivory tower each day on my ride into work along the Yarra and had never seen inside!   Designed by architects William Wardell and JJ Clarke, completed in 1876, it was rumoured to be the largest Government House in the British Empire at the time of construction.
http://www.governor.vic.gov.au/government-house/history/history-of-government-house

Another quick ride along the Yarra to take in the Mission to Seafarers, completed in 1919 and designed by Walter Butler.  This warren of buildings includes the chapel, clubrooms, chaplain’s house, cottage and the Norla dome (originally a gymnasium).
http://www.missiontoseafarers.com.au/

Riding to the docklands to take shelter from the rain showers on the wharf of the New Docklands library and managed to catch the last guided tour of the day with Project Manager from Lend Lease.  This is one of the first all timber structural buildings in Melbourne and an exceptional example of this type of prefabricated construction, complete with exposed timber throughout and recycled columns and beams in part of the building.

This library is breaking the traditional mould with exhibition spaces, an auditorium, recording studios and table tennis on the convertible outdoor terrace.  The lightweight structure allowed construction directly onto the existing wharf saving time and materials costs.
http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/MelbourneLibraryService/FindUs/Pages/DocklandsLibraryLocation.aspx

Day 2 started out with a guided walk through of the Royal Melbourne Hospital tunnels showing the maze of unused pipes, wires, cable trays of building services and the new ordered and tidy tunnels sending services throughout the buildings above and neighbouring sites.  The 2 massive generators keeping warm and on standby were just some of the major infrastructure in place for any emergency power.
http://www.openhousemelbourne.org/buildings/royal-melbourne-hospital-tunnels-and-towers

Next stop was the famous Myer Mural Hall on the top floor of Myers to take in the lavish deco finishing and huge murals depicting influential figures from the arts, opera, literature, fashion and dance.  http://muralhall.net.au/

The final stop was the roof garden at 131 Queen Street.  Completed in 2010 and designed by Bent Architecture, the garden is now well established and its features include a centralised roof water collection and irrigation system and a micro-weather station to allow collection of green roof performance data for researchers from The University of Melbourne.
http://www.bentarchitecture.com.au/projects/completed-works/growing-up-green-roof.html

Our city has many amazing architectural icons and even though I only got to 6 buildings this year, Melbourne Open House made me even more proud of my city and eager to volunteer for next year’s event.

- Maxine

August 19th, 2014

Having worked in the Recruitment Industry for three years now, I have seen my fair share of resumes. Some of these have been excellent, some good, and some appalling. There is no steadfast rule on what makes a great resume. At the end of the day, your resume is there to tell your story – what you have been doing since you left school / university and the experience you have gained along the way. Regardless of how great it looks or how well it is written, unless you have the technical experience it can be hard to secure a job in the current market.

Whilst there is no definitive figure, a quick bit of research indicates that employers receive anywhere between 50 and 250 applications per job advertisement. With competition this fierce, how can you set yourself apart from the pack?

Many job advice websites suggest packing a punch in the ‘Hobbies and Interests’ section of your resume. Whilst this is good advice, will the fact that you spend your weekends fly fishing, or happen to be the local Coo-ee champion really land you that dream job?

Here are some ‘Do Not’s’ to help you navigate this minefield:

  • You may love to spend your spare time engaging in some epic motorcross fun, but as one manager put it ‘I like to know you are going to be able to turn up for work on Monday’. Maybe limit the extreme sports that feature in your resume to eliminate any concerns of serious injury over the weekend.
  • There are hobbies and then there are obsessions – try not to be too enthusiastic about your hobbies. You may love surfing, but making it a large feature on your resume may leave managers wondering whether you would rather grab your board and head to the beach instead of showing up to the office on a Monday morning.
  • Keep it the right side of ‘Quirky’ – your penchant for air guitar (a genuine hobby on a resume I received once) is probably not going to add value to your application.
  • Keep it appropriate – I love wine. I do not need to write about this on my resume. The same applies for partying (yes, some people actually list this as a hobby. In fact one candidate listed this under their ‘skills’), or generally anything that could appear to affect your employment in some way.

If you feel that you want to add hobbies / interests to your resume please consider this: the entire purpose of your resume is to get you an interview, once you have face time with a recruitment consultant or a line manager you have a much higher chance of securing the role. Ask yourself – does your resume reflect you in your best light? Every single word on that CV should serve no other purpose than to demonstrate why YOU should be hired. This includes your hobbies / interests section. If you do want to include these keep the following in mind:

  • Make it relevant: Link your hobbies to the work place. For example, playing in the local Netball team demonstrates an ability to work well as part of a team and contribute to an overall goal (literally).
  • Make it broad: list a broad range of interests that demonstrate you are a diverse person with an ability to adapt to different situations and deal with people from different walks of life.
  • Describe why you like it: I often read through a detailed, well thought out resume only to see the heading ‘Interests’ with three half – hearted bullet points jotted underneath like ‘computers, family, reading’ – be specific. Describe exactly what type of reading you like and why you like it. Then link this back to the position you are applying for. For example, if you are interested in genealogy and are applying for an administrative position, then you can discuss that your interest gives you the opportunity to research and organise information in a way that will allow future generations to discover their history.

If you are unsure just ask yourself what that particular hobby really says about you and how it can be perceived. If in doubt, leave it out.

- Beth

August 14th, 2014

Anyone who has gone through the process of looking for work should be well and truly across all the do’s and don’ts of resume writing and how to make a great first impression. However for those in the Architecture and Design Industry (or any creative industry for that matter), a resume is simply not enough. Sure it gives a great snapshot of where you’ve worked and what you’ve done but in an Industry that is all about presentation, I cannot stress the importance of accompanying that great resume with a brilliant, stand out portfolio.

In a competitive market, Hiring Managers are inundated with applications and do not have the time to chase you for examples of your work. Often when applying online you won’t have the option to attach a portfolio however always ensure you have it completed and ready to send in case a potential employer or recruiter makes contact. The extra time that it takes you to compile your portfolio, could mean the difference between getting an interview and missing out.

Some things to consider when creating your portfolio

    1. It is just as important how you present your portfolio as it is what is in the content
    2. Quality vs Quantity. You should always err on the side of providing high quality images rather than a higher quantity – remember the quality reflects your pride in your work.
    3. Your portfolio shows how you represent yourself so is an example of the highest quality you can produce and reflects the best work you can produce to represent the practice if hired
    4. Keep the file to a reasonable size – if your portfolio is enormous we won’t receive it. As a general rule, keep it to 5MB
    5. Keep it relevant to the roles you are applying for in both type of project and also the stage of the design process (concepts, TP, Doc, Detailing)
    6. Consolidate your work examples to one file – Hiring Managers are pressed for time as it is, so they certainly do not want to be clicking through 16 separate attachments
    7. Don’t limit the content to finished photos of your projects – demonstrate the extent of your experience including documentation, concept work, sketch design, sample boards and anything else that might be relevant to the role
    8. Make sure any important text is easy to read. Often, we will receive a portfolio that has been shrunk down to fit to the page and not even an industrial strength magnifying glass will help!
    9. Compiling your portfolio is an ongoing process throughout your career. Ensure that you keep it up to date as you go so that it is ready when you need it.
    10. And finally, don’t forget you’re in in an Industry where presentation is of utmost importance. If you want to be noticed, invest that extra time in making it presentable, neat and eye catching.

In the age of the Cloud the temptation is to dump everything into a Dropbox and provide a link. Your portfolio is a presentation and your chance to show your future employer your style, experience and presentation skills. If you force them to sift through entire drawing sets to find the relevant information you will lose their attention very quickly and you will see your opportunities slip through your fingers.

Follow these simple guidelines for the greatest impact:

    • Quality is Key
    • Keep it focused and relevant
    • This is a professional presentation. Have your portfolio reflect this
    • Make it easy for your audience to view

- Ben and Jess

August 1st, 2014

At Aspect we’re not one to do things by halves, so what better way to end the month than having a ‘Christmas in July’ lunch AND dressing for the charity ‘Jeans for Genes’ Day.

The dress code rules for ‘Jeans for Genes’ Day was simple.  Pay $5 to wear your jeans for work, but pay an extra $5 if you aren’t in (at least) double denim!  Special mention to Chantelle, the newest member of the Aspect family, who came in not only a double denim outfit, but accessorised with denim handbag and denim hair bow!

Next came Christmas lunch, and it was off with the Katy Perry music (Directors choice) and on with the carols.  After a little bit of home-prep the night before, a well laid out/jam-packed BBQ and a quick trip to Coles – dinner was served.  Roast chicken, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, maple syrup glazed carrots, brussel sprouts, mini sausages, stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce. Oh, and of course, crackers!  Or ‘bon-bons’ as they’re apparently called in Australia?  And if that wasn’t enough, shortbread and ginger biscuits for afterwards.   I can’t wait for the real Christmas!

But organising the 2 events on the same day was a mistake.  I didn’t think things through in enough detail because… Jeans have no give!  And now I am sitting at my desk wishing I was in a pair of joggers or at least something with an elasticated waistband.

- Sara

July 30th, 2014

Dickens once wrote that procrastination is the thief of time. Personally I find that the time thief catches me at night. As a night owl I constantly struggle to get to bed early, however as I get up early for the gym, a good bedtime is essential. You night owls out there will understand when I say that 10pm is apparently the perfect time to start doing your tax return, filing, catching up on emails or pouring over The New Yorker, which is all rather counter-productive to the early wake up call.

It was during one such night that I stumbled across an article discussing the results of research conducted by Scientists in the Netherlands. Looking specifically at ‘bedtime procrastination’ the Scientists discovered that those who are likely to put off tasks they don’t want to do during the day are more likely to delay their bed time, despite being tired or having an early start the next day. In fact, avoiding bed time involves the same mental process as resisting a cupcake whilst dieting.

Whilst modern technology often gets blamed for our poor attention span, we have proof that as early as 1400 B.C humanity was suffering from poor time management. This comes from Egyptian hieroglyphs that have been translated by Egyptologist Ronald Leprohon as “Friend, stop putting off work and allow us to go home in good time”. Throughout history philosophers have been fascinated with the topic that ancient greeks call ‘akrasia’ – doing something against one’s better judgement, which is basically what procrastination is. Putting off an essential task does not feel good, not like skipping class used to. That was fun. Maybe not quite Ferris Bueller’s Day Off fun, but fun nonetheless. Putting something off however just increases stress levels and sometimes makes the task seem worse than it actually is.

Recent studies at the University of Colorado have shown that 46% of the tendency to procrastinate is down to genetics. Yes, there is a ‘procrastination gene’. The research also shows that procrastinators are more likely to be impulsive and therefore have a lower ability to self-regulate. Procrastination is a lack of self-control and an ability to be distracted easily, and therefore the best approach to combat it is to make your targets small, immediate and specific. In other words set aside 15 minutes to complete a task and set yourself a goal that MUST be achieved within that time frame. For example, instead of saying ‘I will complete some of my presentation’ say ‘I will complete 5 slides of my presentation’. Also, as distractions are clearly an issue try to eliminate them – put your mobile in a desk drawer, turn off your emails, or even go into a quiet room to complete your task (this works well if you are in an open office). One extreme coping method was that utilised by Victor Hugo who would write naked and insist his valet hide all his clothes so he could not go outside and therefore had no choice but to write.

There is another side to procrastination that must be considered, however, and this is a point raised by the philosopher Mark Kingwell – maybe we procrastinate on some tasks because deep down we consider the task not worth doing at all. So before giving yourself a hard time, ask yourself are you procrastinating because you do not want to do something, or because it is not worth doing in the first place?

- Beth

July 28th, 2014

Last week Jess and Maxine attended the Property Council Women in Business lunch at Zinc, Federation Square.  Chaired by Emily Dean, National Leasing & Strategy Manager at Telstra the panel guests were Jane Hunt, CEO of Fitted For Work and Romilly Madew Chief Executive of the Green Building Council of Australia.

The panel discussions centred around increasing use of technology to provide flexibility in the working environment and highlighted the importance mentoring, coaching and supporting women in the professional context, with emphasis on being a coach, mentee and mentor and having both male and female advocates. Jane and Romilly also outlined the success of flexible working arrangements at their own companies and that several senior staff members were currently working from home in both full time and part time capacities.

Sponsored by Urbis with attendees from Wood & Grieve, Irwinconsult, Lend Lease, Hassell, Maccormack, the Buchan Group and Aurecon, the lunch highlighted the success of women in business relies often on their own resilience, advice from advocates and being actively involved in more than just their paid positions. Drawing on her own experience, Romilly explained that taking up a volunteer or mentor position will enhance your skills, increase your networks and set you apart from other applicants when taking the next step in your career or progressing to a leadership role.

Maxine is currently involved with the NAWIC mentoring program and can already see the benefits of being mentee to an industry connection, including increased self-awareness, professional development and rewarding insights.

For more information on program click here -  http://www.nawic.com.au/app/NAWIC/Chapters/VIC_TAS/037.aspx

To get involved with Fitted For Work – http://www.fittedforwork.org/

For more information and latest news from GBCA – http://www.gbca.org.au/

- Jess & Maxine

July 28th, 2014

Did you know 91% of Australians feel stressed due to work?

To combat this, Lifeline hold an annual event called “Stress Down Day” – which is dedicated to creating awareness around the importance of reducing stress on our community. On Stress Down Day everyone is encouraged to reduce stress levels by dressing down and enjoying fun activities with friends and workmates.

Last Friday Aspect took part in Stress Down Day for the second year in a row.

To stress down, we had an afternoon full of fun activities which included: Arts and crafts, a paper plane competition, Origami (which Matt & Sara might say wasn’t so stress free), card games, Mario Karts on the Wii and games of Pool in the games room.

There were also snacks, delicious snacks. Among said snacks was “fairy bread” which I thought was quite fitting for an afternoon of fun and games…I soon realised that it was an Aussie/Kiwi thing after I got some confused looks from my English and Welsh colleagues, who were not so excited for 100 & 1000s on bread.

Fairy bread consumed or not, everyone stressed down and it was a great way to end the week!

To see more photos click here >

For more information on Stress Down Day and information on how to overcome stress click here >

- Cass

July 25th, 2014

 

During the week I asked a friend of mine to meet up for a quick lunch and she said “I can’t, I have a meeting. About a meeting.” Yup – she had to have an internal meeting to discuss their up-coming internal meeting.

It seems that the working day is increasingly filling up with meetings – some incredibly useful, some less so. For those working in office based roles, this can mean hours of sitting down which is apparently one of the reasons that poor health (and expensive gym memberships) are on the increase.

In order to tackle the inherent health problems associated with sitting down for long periods, professors at Washington University’s Business School have been researching whether standing during meetings enhances both the health and productivity of those involved. As 75% of meetings run for 30 minutes or less, the professors focused their research on meetings of this duration.

Professors Andrew Knight and Markus Baer staged test meetings where they asked participants to develop recruitment videos for the University. Those who stood up during the meetings stated that they believed their colleagues to be more open to ideas, more productive and less territorial.

It is worth noting that standing for long periods of time can be just as damaging as sitting down so this method must be used in moderation, however spending the first 30 minutes standing could increase productivity and creativity levels.

Another suggestion is walking meetings – the change of scenery and endorphins from the exercise is said to lead to an increased ability to think outside the box. After all, Aristotle (along with many other Greek philosophers) was said to walk as he taught as it promotes deliberation and ideas. If it is good enough for Aristotle…

So, next time you are having a meeting, maybe suggest standing up or taking a walk – you may be pleasantly surprised with the outcome!

- Beth

July 18th, 2014

Breaking your jaw is painful. When this happens, most people rest, get their jaw fixed, then resume normal life. Not Mark Parrent. When Mark recently broke his jaw playing footy, he was told that he could not resume playing his favourite sport for 3 months. Most would take this as an opportunity to take it easy. Mark took it as an opportunity to sign up for a half marathon. In preparation for running a full marathon (which he has also signed up for).

These endeavours do also coincide with Marks’ 30th birthday (which was yesterday – Happy birthday Mark). Mid life crisis come early? Maybe. However, Mark is also raising money for Beyond Blue, a wonderful charity that focuses on improving the mental health of the whole population of Australia. For more information visit http://www.beyondblue.org.au/

In order to support Mark in his endeavour, yesterday morning at 8am we all donned our walking gear and coffee in hand set off for a morning walk around the Tan (the proper way I might add – uphill), whilst each donating $10 to Beyond Blue.

As we neared the end, Mark displayed his athletic prowess by bolting off to purchase some yummy fruit to make everyone smoothies when we returned.

The fresh air and healthy drinks helped inspire everyone to have a very productive and healthy Thursday – thank you to Mark for arranging such a gorgeous start to the day!

In order to support Mark and help him to reach his fundraising goal please visit https://runmelbourne2014.everydayhero.com/au/mark-16 – as the saying goes ‘every dollar helps’ so any donation would be very much appreciated. Make this your good deed for the day.

 - Beth 

July 11th, 2014

On Wednesday 2nd July, after a year of hard work, blood, sweat and tears, the Aspect team made their way down Bourke Street, in a sea of red hoodies and new Aspect sports bags.  We were off to the RACV Club for our EOFY conference.  We settled in to one of the large board rooms with a jam-packed agenda for the 3 day event, but as always, it wasn’t ‘all work and no play’!

We welcomed Jess Cronin to her inaugural EOFY conference and also Chantelle Polites, our new Office Manager, on her very first day!  And what a way to meet the team – there’s nothing like being thrown in at the deep end!

Over the course of the 3 days, all staff individually presented to the group, and we listened to what’s in store for the year ahead at Aspect – with some really exciting developments on the horizon.

We enjoyed some free time to sample the hotel’s facilities, with many of us cramming in a gym session, so as to reduce the over-indulgence guilt that was no doubt going to be happening.

True to style, our first evening’s activity was a Masterchef style competition.  Split into 3 teams, we were actually assisting the preparation of a delicious 3 course dinner – in the hotel restaurant’s kitchen! Not sure if we were more of a hindrance than a help, but the chefs and kitchen staff were very patient with us, whilst they bustled around preparing the paying diners orders.  Disappointingly, we didn’t witness any Gordon Ramsey-style language and commotion, but Ben and I did learn to quenelle (that fancy technique you do with spoons, to make a scoop of food into an oval shape!) and I’m pretty sure the majority of the salted caramel sauce was piped into our mouths, rather than onto desert plates.

On Thursday evening, we got even more creative.  Having already been asked to come prepared with 2 outfits – double denim, and a rockstar/popstar – we were guessing it was a karaoke evening.  Little did we know we were actually off for our very own photo shoot in a studio off Hardware Lane!  It was a hilarious few hours, and thankfully there were drinks on hand to ensure that the likes of Justin Bieber, Ginger and Scary Spice, Amy Winehouse and Freddy Mercury were all a little less stiff on camera!  Watch this space for some of the photos to be released!

Safe to say there were some sore heads on Friday, but with no rest for the wicked, we had another full day of work – discussing staff suggestions for improvements to the business, forward planning and financial targets.

Our eventful 3 days was rounded off with the amazing surprise that we were off to Vue de Monde that evening for a private dining, 10 course degustation experience! And WOW, it did not disappoint. We tried some weird and wonderful items, and the wine was flowing.  The Aspect team looked incredibly smart in their black-tie attire, sipping on cocktails and enjoying the view from the 55th floor restaurant in the Rialto building.

Matt presented trophies to this year’s award winners – Tom, Cass, and Ben who deservedly took out 3 awards! Whilst some of us were ready to call it a night after dinner, others continued the celebrations back at the office A-Bar.

As always, the conference was a great way to reflect on the year that has been, and plan for the year ahead.  A big thanks to ‘Uncle Aspect’ and Cass for organising – I don’t know how you’re going to top it next year!

 - Sara