I have been reflecting on my recent days spent with architecture students at their annual leadership conference – AIAS Grassroots held July 24-27 in Washington DC – and I am happy to report there is much optimism with the next generation of our profession’s leaders. It is important for us practitioners and academics to remember not to squash that optimism in our efforts to “educate” them about the realities of practice. While we certainly want them to enter the profession with their eyes wide open, we also want to make sure that they remain hopeful and enthusiastic about their desire to make change in the built environment and in their communities.
My two sessions in the Career Track were on Mentoring and Job Search; and for both I emphasized the need to develop strong networks. I encouraged them to share resources and best practices amongst their respective chapters but also to reach out to their alumni, their local AIA chapter and their professional community at large.
While I provided specific examples of how to structure their cover letters, resumes, and work samples; I also impressed upon them the importance of choosing their firms to match their values. I reminded them that interviewing was a two-way street; and that it was just important to learn about a firm’s culture, commitment to mentorship and career development as it was to demonstrate the skills and talents they would bring to a firm.
In conducting my third session - Speed Mentoring, I learned that in Sacramento, CA the local AIA chapter has a robust mentoring program that starts out with a Speed Mentoring session. It’s always fun to hear how another AIA Chapter is utilizing Speed Mentoring. They even have a tool kit if you’d like to start one in your locale.
There were lots of stories shared and connections made. Saw old friend’s like Lee Waldrep (who led two other sessions in the Career Track) and established new friendships with Elizabeth Chu Richter (the national President of AIA – who I think is going to be my MINTY). All in all, it was a good Grassroots – glad to have been invited to participate.
*An Associate at Schemata shared that her friend had a role model she called her MINTY (“Me IN Twenty Years”).