Dylan Huang, former Unitec student and now Director at Archiland Architecture, says the company’s relationship with Unitec is a successful and multi-faceted one.
Giving back as an alumnus
Dylan completed a Bachelor of Architectural Studies at Unitec in 2012. At the time, he’d already started Archiland – an Architectural Design company established in 2010 – and was working and studying full-time.
“It was a busy time! But gaining my degree at Unitec allowed me to take my business to the next level. I’d already completed a Diploma in Architectural Technology in Wellington, and after Unitec I went on to complete my Masters in Architecture at The University of Auckland, but I always maintained a strong connection to Unitec. It was much more personal, the lecturers were so supportive and I learnt a lot.”
Since then, Dylan has maintained the relationship with Unitec in a number of different ways – from hiring Unitec graduates at Archiland to sponsoring international students and having a presence at Unitec’s open days.
Employing Unitec graduates
“Today, 90% of Archiland’s staff are from Unitec. We’ve employed graduates from other places, but we find the attitude and skill set of Unitec students are really suited to our business. Archiland focuses on the technical side of architecture, so we’re looking for technicians and draftspersons. Over the past four years, we’ve moved from working on single homes to multi-unit housing, in line with the changes to Auckland’s Unitary Plan. Grads from Unitec’s Bachelor and Diploma in Architecture seem to fit our requirements – plus we find they’re hardworking and reliable.”
Dylan says Archiland has a strong presence at Unitec’s Open Days and Graduate Expos where, along with many other businesses, they offer information and advice to students and grads wanting to get into the industry. He says many of those interested have gone on to become employees.
In 2018, Archiland sponsored four of Unitec’s international students, giving them a sponsorship of $3,000 each to help with their transition to New Zealand. Having been an international student himself, Dylan understands how difficult it can be to study in a new country.
“It can be lonely when you first arrive, trying to grasp the language and culture. When you’re learning in English it’s hard to understand what the teacher is saying – so you have to go home and translate what they’ve said before you can even start studying! This is especially difficult in the building industry, where there’s lots of terminology. I wanted to offer some monetary support to help students through this process.”
Apart from managing Archiland, Dylan is also the Secretary-General of the NZ Chinese Building Industry Association (NZCBIA). The association has more than 100 members – mainly local Chinese building companies, consultants, material suppliers, developers and contractors, along with some kiwi companies wanting to penetrate the Chinese market. Dylan says the NZCBIA has a three-year contract with Unitec, where each year they offer a $10,000 scholarship to two top students.
Providing upskilling opportunities
NZCBIA is all about connecting Chinese building companies with the New Zealand market. On top of the scholarship, the association facilitates a partnership between Unitec and a school in Sichuan province in China. Students spend two years working on their diploma in China, then come to New Zealand to complete their degree at Unitec. The NZCBIA works with Unitec to find job opportunities for those students once they’ve graduated.”
But this isn’t where the relationship between the NZCBIA and Unitec ends. The association runs a training course for Chinese students, and Unitec’s tutors and lecturers are regularly invited to present as guest speakers. On top of this, Dylan provides Unitec with tickets to attend the association’s annual conference. This is followed by a two-day expo where Unitec has a stand and sees many new student enrolments as a result.
“Overall there are so many ways in which both Archiland and NZCBIA work with Unitec, to the advantage of all parties. I have found them to be a great partner and see so many more opportunities to grow the relationship in the future.”