Professional Development – Being in the Conversation

January 12, 2015

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Brandon Graska of Bergmeyer was invited to participate recently in the NCARB Intern Think Tank. Here, he talks about the event and the importance of professional development for aspiring architects.

Involvement in a professional organization pertaining to one’s career or skill set can play a big part in shaping the industry. Becoming involved in this capacity has potential to impact more than just the individual; it affects everyone in their professional network, their peers, and their direct colleagues. The architectural community, specifically, has a relatively small make-up of specialized professionals who are self-governing and rely on its own practitioners to define the future of the practice. Moreover, their ability to make the slightest bit of impact can make a substantial difference for the profession at large.

These ideals grew on me as I began to understand the organization involved in the standards for licensing and credentialing of architects, the National Council of Architectural Registration Board (NCARB). After expressing interest in NCARB, I was afforded the opportunity to sit on the 2014 NCARB Intern Think Tank panel. Participants included myself and eleven colleagues, who were charged with defining the current state of the Intern Development Program (IDP), proposing changes to IDP, discussing roles and titles within the profession, and addressing all areas of the architectural licensure process that are succeeding or failing. Our discussion was moderated by the NCARB Director of Internship and Education, NCARB Manager of Internship and Education, and the Intern Think Tank chair, a recently licensed architect, all who helped lead the dialog.

Two full days of provocative conversation and debate brought light to very specific topics such as: early intern education of the licensure process; fulfilling particular hours of IDP based off of office size or office roles; intern resources; IDP supervisor/mentor roles and relationships; and office titles vs. nationally-recognized titles. Many of the topics were solely constructed as action items to be presented to various NCARB committees (and not necessarily meant to be resolved on the spot). Following the meeting, we have been developing a revised educational outreach slideshow about the path to licensure and resources to support and educate IDP Supervisors.

We, ourselves, became a bit more knowledgeable. Bringing together twelve like-minded individuals from around the country – with varying architectural backgrounds, all strongly opinionated about the current and future state of the architectural licensure process – proved that similar conversations and ideas of the profession are taking place nationwide. We pontificated much of what was already being thought about the licensure process, but not yet being said. I am hopeful these messages can be conveyed cohesively on a localized level as well.

Becoming involved in a professional organization like NCARB is important as it is serves to generate dialogue from the grand scale, which then can be reciprocated locally at regional charters, networking events or throughout an office. It should also be acknowledged that opportunities like this provide insight to how an organization like NCARB respects the professionals that it represents by identifying growth and change opportunities.

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