Thursday, June 17, 2010

Good news from the AIA Convention

I got back earlier this week from the National AIA Convention in Miami Beach, where a colleague and I co-presented a seminar on mentoring interns. The seminar fostered some fantastic discussion amongst the attendees, and it received some pretty good reviews and comments at the end. After spending a couple of days processing the comments from the crowd, and then after spending a couple more days getting caught up at work, I finally have the presence of mind to share some good news with you all.

Managers and firm owners get it. Not all of them, but some of them understand how good, solid mentorship of interns is good for their firm and our profession. They understand that spending time with you to really teach you and show you how to do things and why we do what we do trains you to answer questions and work through problems in their absence. They understand that incorporating you into the design teams and into design meetings with clients and contractors makes you more knowledgeable and useful on a project. They acknowledge the hard work that you do, and if you need to stay late some night or for several days to finish a project that you get a five-day weekend in return. They appreciate now knowledgeable you are about CAD and Revit and Illustrator, and they acknowledge how much more you know about printing and drawing these days. They know how useful you are and how hard you work, and they're willing and interested in giving you opportunities to learn and grow and do and be more.

I was really relieved and pleased to see the group of nearly 100 architects--mostly project managers and firm owners--did not buy into the "all these kids today with their iPods and their texting are no damn good" hype. Quite the opposite, they were finding that you and your intern colleagues are motivated, ready to learn, and ready to contribute. It gives me some relief indeed to know that I'm not tilting against windmills with this blog, and I'm excited to know that some of the managers out there are interested in giving you just the positive internship experience that you need.


  1. and where do these people work because not here.. i need to send my resume to those places!

  2. I tend to agree that the "I'm just a monkey, nobody cares" crowd often wins the perceived "state of an interns life" battle. How many people really write/say they had a good experience? For many, it's just another series of hoops and they just want to move on. What I've found is that internship is what you make. Yes, there are bad firms. As you've noted, more often though I'm guessing the experience is good and if it's not, you might have to ask yourself "What is my role in this and who do I talk to make it better?".

    That said, I still have to ask whether NCARB itself gets it? And whether the industry as a whole really gets the devastating impact of the economy on intern development, particularly for those who have been laid off. Every day out, is not just salary, but intern hours and experience. I did get an invitation for the AIA awards dinner at $150 a head, but I've yet to see a great answer to real life work experience when not earning a salary (not just EPC).

    Why can't we earn at least some hours in category A while working for an energy consulting firm where you arguably could have more impact on the design phase than a lot of interns ever will? Why can't we earn some Cat A hours for architecture work WITH a licensed architect for recognized volunteer groups (Arch For Humanity, Habitat, etc.). Often times on these projects we are the ones doing the design, the drawing, coordination AND building. It's also far more real and worthwhile than any EPC exercise ever will be. Instead NCARB automated the processing and the rates are going up July 1. There's a disconnect that isn't being addressed.

  3. Anon: Like I said, some of them get it, but not all of them. Keep looking for a good place!

    JD: You bring up some fantastic points here, and I'm going to try to address them in some upcoming posts.