February 22, 2016 / President's Letters

March 2016 President’s Letter — Paying it Foward


At the 2016 Mentorship Kick Off at Ayers Saint Gross

Humor me for a moment.
Take a few minutes from your full, endlessly busy schedules to reminisce. Close your eyes and think back to those very special people who inspired you to choose your current career.

  • What was it that they did or said that made such a difference?
  • How did they open your eyes to new possibilities?
  • What did they do to help you visualize in yourself greater potential than you previously imagined?

There is not one among us who does not owe a debt of gratitude to an individual who took the time to guide our path towards our current career. Regardless of their day job (teacher, counselor, architect, professor, firm principal, designer), for us they served as a MENTOR. And being a Mentor is among the very highest callings in life.
A colleague of mine recently decided to make a career adjustment. His early professional career was spent in traditional practice with several Baltimore firms: from one among the very largest in our city to a small specialty-based architectural firm. His path changed and for the past 16 years he has been involved in managing several large scale university projects as a state system architect. Now my friend is leaving our state system to work with a young design firm in private practice. At least one of his reasons was to be able to serve as Mentor to their young staff, sharing his considerable architectural expertise. How very enlightened of him to see the importance of this!
On February 10th, at Ayers Saint Gross, our Emerging Professionals and Women in Architecture Committees collaborated to host a Mentorship Kick Off event with about 30 participants. From all accounts, this speed-dating-like process successfully veered attendees towards creating new mentoring partnerships. I was very pleased to hear that several of our Fellows (including Luis Bernardo, Luanne Greene, Klaus Philipsen and Dave Thompson) were among the Mentors present. Although generally more balanced than previous similar events, we can always use more Mentors to meet the needs of mentees in search of career guidance.
Wherever you fall in the spectrum of professional experience, please know that you too can be a Mentor to the next generation:

  • Architecture students mentoring middle and high school students through FAR/Kids in Design outreach.
  • Emerging professionals and newly minted registered architects mentoring architecture students.
  • Fellows and experienced architects mentoring younger architects and emerging professionals.

As I write this letter, a perfectly timed bit of serendipity reinforced the importance of this topic. One of the Fellows in attendance shared with me the following email note he had just received from a Mentee:
We spoke at the AIA Mentorship Kick Off Event on Wednesday. I remember you sharing with me about MR’s journey to [your firm], and that I should not merely put all the weight of a job application on the portfolio. But instead, I should consider 1 of 10 qualities to bring to the table, and build on one of those qualities.
Well, I appreciate those remarks and suggestions. It really gives me a sense of direction in applying for internships for the summer. So, I thank you kindly for your availability and service. Grace to you sir.
The Mentor mentioned the “ripple effect” of his participation and how this note “put a smile on my face and in my heart.”  Now please consider becoming a Mentor so that you also can provide this same extraordinary life affirming gift to someone else.
I am looking forward to hear who YOU choose to Mentor in the year ahead.
Thanks for all you will do to help our profession invest in our future in this way!
anthony sig
Anthony Consoli, AIA
President, AIABaltimore 2016
Campus Architect, University of Maryland Baltimore