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AIA 2012 Convention Special: Emerging Professionals Take on the Future of the AIA

Future Now! Emerging Professionals convene at the Convention.

Courtesy AIA National Associates Committee

Despite delivering the sobering statistic that more than 60,000 positions have been lost since the recession, which is equivalent to 30% of architecture staff nationally, AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Ph.D., Hon. AIA, spoke about the promise of the future of the profession. Throughout this year’s convention, the most prominent theme for Emerging Professionals (EPs) focused on maintaining passion for the profession by taking on leadership roles, both at the AIA, as well as within firms and in local communities.

“People often confuse experience with leadership” was a statement repeated at several talks intended for EPs – the message being one does not need many years of experience to demonstrate the qualities of a leader. At the National Associates Committee Directors Roundtable discussion, James Cramer, Hon. AIA, commented that one of the leading struggles for EPs is attempting to understand how they can make themselves relevant. This question becomes more complicated with the expanding definition of practice and changing roles of architects. With the profession in flux and the AIA its Repositioning Architects and the AIA Initiative, EPs should look ahead at what opportunities these changes hold and take advantage of them now.

When the candidates for AIA National office spoke with EPs, there was a consensus that mentoring in both directions is a necessity to sustain the profession. Susan Chin, FAIA, 2013-14 AIA Vice President, commented that more “seasoned” professionals have much to learn from the way EPs collaborate. She asked that EPs think about how the AIA can support their interests, whether it is through funds for programs, ARE exams, and competitions, or by helping create a network of mentors. Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, 2014 AIA President, tasked EPs with being proactive about taking on leadership roles to achieve their goals. “Jump in and people will take notice and include you in their endeavors,” she said. With one of the largest turnouts of Associate members in recent history, it seems that EPs are taking the suggestion to heart.