This past weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Emerging Professionals Roundtable, held at the Texas Society of Architects office in Austin. The meeting was the annual sharing/brainstorming session for Associate AIA Directors from AIA chapters across Texas. The Lower Rio Grande Valley AIA (LRGVAIA) Associate Director, Erick Diaz, had given me the heads up on this event a couple of weeks prior so I was able to get myself a seat at the table. I went up to Austin wearing two hats: one as the Texas Young Architect Regional Director — and also as a pinch hitter for Erick himself. Erick’s wife Carolina is/was super pregnant, so naturally Erick needed to remain in McAllen — I assume to act as air traffic controller so that the stork would know where to land.
The Roundtable took place over the course of an entire Saturday. Associate AIAs from chapters all across Texas were in attendance, along with a couple of Texas Society of Architects staff members, and throughout we were joined by a few distinguished guests, including current Society President, Larry Speck, FAIA. The day was filled with presentations that informed all of us on what particular chapters were doing, how they were doing it, what was working, and what they hoped to do during 2013. I had flashbacks to a time before I passed my exams and felt relieved and old all at the same time.
Mentorship— at all levels of career advancement — was a topic that came up over and over again. There seems to be a building consensus that we in Texas could do a lot more to promote the idea of mentorship from the most senior levels of practice all the way down to the recently graduated. Each distinct career phase stands to benefit from sharing information, experience, and ideas. This is something that we can expect to be a topic that will keep coming up throughout the year.
The Texas Society of Architects is striving to be the voice of architecture in Texas. The organization has received a very strong mandate from its executive leadership to continue promoting
architecture and architects in the state. Traditionally, this meant getting content which would be published in Texas Architect. That seemed to be the only way to communicate. One thing that became abundantly clear from the Roundtable was that the Society’s staff is absolutely open to getting content that will be pushed through social media out into the world. They want nothing more than to be kept in the loop on what all architects in Texas are doing. It doesn’t matter if your stuff is unpolished or if it is short. If you can take interesting photos with your smartphone, if you can write a couple of paragraphs, if you can scan that sketch you were doing at the bar while you were trying to impress some girl — then Texas Architects wants to hear about it!
It turns out that the LRGVAIA is not the only chapter in Texas that has a hard time getting a critical mass of people to show up and participate in events. I thought that I would throw that out there, just in case you were wondering. In spite of that, it turns out that there are a lot of great ideas and interesting things that some of the larger chapters across the state are doing. If anything, they are more than willing to reach out, and pass along some of their experiences so that we will not constantly have to reinvent the wheel down here. For example: San Antonio always uses very bright graphic imagery on their email invites to their events; for whatever reason that always seems to draw a lot more people. Austin reaches out to non-architects and makes that an important aspect of their programs; they reach out to allied professionals, including engineers, real estate professionals, contractors, product reps, developers, and the general public. Houston goes straight for the jugular and is heavily focused on putting on boot camp seminars for the ARE.
So that was about it. If anyone has any questions or would like to get some additional information, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article originally published on the website of the Lower Rio Grande Valley AIA.