katebrennan@blackspectacles.com

Kate Brennan

February 12, 2021

How to Find a Mentor in Architecture

Mentors are crucial to the architecture industry; they help guide and shape the next generation of architects. Having a mentor is beneficial at every stage of your career, but none is more crucial than during your Architecture Experience Program (AXP). Moving through these hours contributes towards your licensure status and approval of this work is contingent upon supervisor and, in some cases, mentor approval. About half of the 3,740 required hours have to be under the supervision of an architect, which is where mentorship comes in.

There are various “levels” of supervisor and mentor. You’ll have a formal supervisor for the aforementioned AXP component. They will be assigned when you’re hired at a firm so be sure to ask what kind of support the firm provides to licensure candidates during your interview process. See how NCARB outlines how to go about establishing your AXP Supervisor. Aside from this relationship, you should seek out a mentorship opportunity to maximize your growth. A mentor can provide guidance through your licensing process and beyond. Keep in mind that you only get out of a mentorship what you put in, so take it seriously.

Now you’re probably wondering, “How do I find a mentor?” That’s the million-dollar question, and there are plenty of resources out there for you to tap. We review tips from an experienced architect in our How Architects Thrive in an Uncertain Job Market report. You can also start by researching programs within your local AIA chapter, and follow up with people you meet during networking or alumni events. Usually, people are eager to pay it forward if you’re willing to put in the work and effort, so don’t be shy.

To help you assess the quality of potential mentors, we’ve created a list of attributes they should possess. Use this as a guideline when you’re auditing prospective AXP mentors:

  1. Cemented: They are willing to cement themselves in your career path. They are committed to your professional growth and helping you along the way. They make you a priority whenever you have questions.
  2. Sturdy: They are reliable. They are available to meet with you once per quarter, or even better, once per month. They don’t miss meetings. Their guidance is consistent.
  3. Pillar of the industry: They are an established, licensed architect. They are good at their job.
  4. In a different zone: They work at a different firm than your AXP Supervisor. This way you get knowledge and experience with two firms.
  5. Good acoustics: They listen well. They communicate even better.
  6. Unlimited Hardware: They have the resources for supplemental experience opportunities. They are well connected in the industry. They provide meaningful networking opportunities for you.
  7. Sharp: They are smart. They know their stuff. They are familiar with your state’s licensing requirements and the AXP guidelines.
  8. Provides elevation: They encourage you to reach your fullest potential and stretch outside your comfort zone. They provide advice and guidance to enhance your leadership and interpersonal skills.
  9. Provides a window into the future: They’ve been through it all. They give you a glimpse of what life as an architect is like and help you develop your own vision for the future.
  10. No façades: They genuinely want to help you. They are patient and responsible. They are a positive role model for you.

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