Historically, young aspiring architects worked in the atelier (office) of an experienced “master” architect, learning by doing. More experienced employees thus mentored young people within their firms as a matter of course, by communicating the immediate and long-term goals of an overall project or a particular task. With the advent of the computer, larger and larger firms, and a more fast-paced working world in general, this mentoring relationship so crucial to the development of the profession is in crisis.
While traditional “old-and-young” mentoring remains important, it is clear that there are new issues and opportunities that veteran architects/mentors haven’t even experienced. The result is a need for peer mentoring. Although informal peer mentoring occurs every day in studio and at many levels of the profession, it can either be encouraged or discouraged, foster or flounder, and often beyond the control those involved. A prime example of this was the 1997 change to the computerized ARE and year-round testing. This shift had unexpected effects on the peer and recent-licensee support systems that were extremely important to many people during arguably the most stressful phase of their professional life.
Mentoring and internship are closely linked and have historically been a significant part of the practice of architecture–significantly longer than formal university education has, in fact. Traditional mentoring is important, but we feel that it is best-suited for slow-moving industries operating in stable times. We also feel that mentoring of any sort is best when it happens naturally, rather than by matching people who generally want to be mentored with people who generally want to mentor.
A variety of innovative resources and programs have been developed to foster supportive mentoring relationships. The list of initiatives that follows is not meant to be comprehensive, and we encourage you to share successful programs with us.
AIA Mentoring Programs
AIA National Mentoring Program
AIA California Council Mentorship Program
University-based Mentoring Programs
University of Minnesota
College of Architecture & Landscape Architecture Mentor Program
University of California, Berkeley
College of Environmental Design Alumni Association Mentorship Program
University of Southern California
School of Architecture Mentor Program
NCARB’s IDP Mentor Guidelines
All interns enrolled in IDP are required to identify a mentor and are provided with a dedicated booklet to give to their mentors as a resource. The 24-page booklet includes a variety of information and ideas for enhancing the IDP experience through mentoring. All IDP mentors must now sign and date the employment verification form at IDP items VI and VII to acknowledge he or she has met to review an intern’s training progress.