Mentorship is an essential feature of the development of an architect’s career. The form of mentorship has changed considerably over time, from its beginnings as an apprenticeship, to the current environment, with limitless possible types of mentoring relationships. AIA NJ Emerging Professionals feels that mentorship today is a multi-way feedback loop- it is not just the experienced professional teaching the novice, it is bi-directional, and frequently involves more than one mentor. Social media also plays a huge part in formation of these relationships, and interactions take place digitally a well as faceto-face.

Learning through mentorship has evolved from a narrow path to a complex range of possibilities. By creating an organized program, our goal is to streamline these possibilities into a productive form of mentorship relevant to our members today. This is why we call our program Mentorship NOW. Mentorship NOW is based loosely on a blend of features in the AIA San Francisco Speed Match Mentoring; the AIA Minneapolis Leadership Forum; and the AIA Chicago Bridge program. We have evaluated these successful programs and identified features that stood out as most interesting and appropriate for our region.

From the AIA San Francisco program, we model the composition of our small groups after their Speed Match Mentoring program. Mentoring groups will have four levels of professionals including emerging professionals, mid-level licensed, mid-level unlicensed, and seasoned professionals. Fellows will be involved, ideally with the ideal goal of one per group. Mentoring through cross-generational communication will facilitate bridging the gap between different experience levels. Groups will be assembled based on information provided in applications. The committee plans to market the program to build interest so that enough applications are received by professionals from each experience level.

We would also like to follow the example of AIA San Francisco by having an annual launch party, where small groups meet for first time, group liaisons are selected, and expectations are set for the year. The calendar year for program will start in the spring to avoid the holiday season, and participants will be asked to make a commitment to attending a majority of the small group meetings, to respect the time commitment made by all group members. The organized program will be one year in duration. After that time, groups are free to continue meeting, leave the program, or rejoin the program in a different group.

As a supplement to the small mentoring groups, the committee will plan bimonthly educational seminars where all are invited, featuring presentations given by professionals in other fields. One goal of these interdisciplinary seminars is to foster interest in alternative career paths for architects, which is a growing minority of the associate membership, as people deal creatively with the recession by inventing their own jobs. For those members on a traditional career path, the seminars will provide a refreshing point of view by informing attendees on topics not usually emphasized in current practice. This strategy is similar to the presentations by professionals in other fields in showcased the Minneapolis program, Leadership Forum.