Architectural ambitions: learning through purpose

Ricardo Dabydeen (he/him), a fourth-year Honours Planning student specializing in urban design, discusses his passion for architecture and how he found a sense of giving back to his community through his co-op journey.

Ricardo's co-op journey:

Ricardo Dabydeen headshot

Work term one: As an environmental engineer at the City of Brampton, Ricardo worked on revitalizing one of Brampton’s busiest areas to make it healthier, greener and more sustainable.

Work terms two and three: For his next two work terms, Ricardo was a partnerships intern at Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE). Here he liaised with partners, directly supported his superiors and secured major funding for the benefit of Indigenous communities and youth.


Q&A with Ricardo:

What’s been the most rewarding part of your co-op experience?

“Being able to apply the knowledge and skills I learned in class directly into the workplace. A lot of people don’t get the opportunity to do that until much later in life. One of the most rewarding things about co-op is that you’re actually able to use your skills to contribute to your employer’s values, and some workplaces have very meaningful values.”

“One of the goals at the City of Brampton was to catalyze sustainable development. This allowed me to give back to my community since I live in Brampton. I got to work on the Riverwalk project which was aimed at revitalizing downtown Brampton. It was about creating healthy communities for the future of our city.”

“Another great thing about co-op is that you can see that your work is purposeful. When I was the partnerships intern at ICE, one of my responsibilities was proposal writing and conducting grant opportunities research. I was able to secure a lot of funding for their ten flagship programs which directly went to Indigenous youth’s clean energy projects, allowing them to be a part of the clean energy sector. I can really see how my work helps them, contributes to something greater and makes a positive difference.”

What challenges have you faced in your co-op journey?

“One of the main challenges has been adapting to the workplace culture. It’s always a learning curve, especially at ICE because it was a remote position. I felt there was a knowledge gap because I had to learn about my team and the policies and procedures of the partnerships department. Once I settled into the role, I was able to think forward and since I returned to ICE for my next co-op term, I was able to refine my skills.”

“Every workplace is different and one of the ways to combat this challenge is to keep an open-mind and understand that it’s just the transition phase.”

“The fast-paced work environment is also another challenge for many students and maintaining a positive and calm mindset really helps me to cope with this pace, especially when I’m working with others. This allows us to think more clearly and collaborate better.”

Ricardo Dabydeen in suit

Tips for staying organized during a work term?

“One of the key things I learned from my supervisor was to prepare an agenda before meetings and create to-do lists. We would always have both a digital and a physical copy of the document, in case we didn’t have access to one, we could always refer to the other. This helped me organize my priorities and know which task I needed to work on immediately.”

“I also used the Calendar on Outlook to make sure I’m meeting deadlines and making appointments on time. This system of organization is extremely helpful for tracking progress as it serves as a record that shows us what we have already done.”

Ricardo Dabydeen smiling with a monitor in the background

What’s next for you?

“I love green architecture and sustainable design! Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a passion for architecture, and I want to pursue it further by doing my master’s degree in the field. After that, I think I want to become an entrepreneur architect.”

“I’m really interested in sustainable urban design; that is the new paradigm in this field, especially in architecture. Recently, architecture has had to shift the narrative from creating aesthetically pleasing buildings to looking at environmental and energy certifications such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and designing green structures. I really want to contribute to this innovative thinking and help communities become better for future generations to come.”


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