Howdy, It has been a while since we published a post around here, but it is time once again for an #Architalks blog post. For those of you who don’t already know, Architalks is a monthly (I sometimes miss a month or two) coordinated blog post. A fair amount of Architectural type people from around the globe write on the same topic at the same time. This month's topic is “mentorship”. Take a look at the end of the post for links to a lot of other really great thoughts on what mentorship means to architects.
First, I want to give a little bit of background for anyone who doesn’t know the full bureaucracy that needs to be penetrated to become a licensed architect. After going to college for some number of years, (for me it was some number plus a few) would be architects then go get a job in a firm where they begin to learn a lot more about what architects do day to day. Here is a little hint, there is a lot paperwork. In this time after college and before getting licensed dutiful candidates are highly encouraged to get a “mentor”. Having never been one for formality (and I thought it would be a strange conversation) I never walked up to a person and said
“Will you be my mentor?”
Maybe I missed out on something by not creating this more formal arrangement, but until I talk to the me in an almost parallel universe that did ask for a mentor I will never know.
All of that said, I have had, and still have, many folks who teach me about what it means to be a good architect and a good human, at least for now I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. I started to write a list of different folks who have taught me valuable lessons, but the list was getting too long and I am sure I was forgetting people. So I will just say that there have been many who have taught me about how buildings are built, how to make sure that the architect and contractor are on the same team, and how sometimes you have to swallow your pride and admit that you have made a mistake and start figuring out how to resolve it.
Now a days I am making my way as a sole practitioner with a home office, but most of my life in architecture has been in pretty decent sized firms. Now some days the SOLE is more solitary than others. In getting mentally prepped to write this post I have been reminded how I miss those informal mentor relationships. There isn’t someone I can turn around to and discuss the intricacies of a particular flashing detail. My family loves me, but they REALLY hate discussing the building code. In fact, most of the time their eyes glaze over and I don’t even think they are listening. But I also miss the other side of the coin. I enjoy teaching, not enough to try and be a professor or anything, but kinda the mentor type of teaching. In the last firm I worked I had become someone who could be asked regarding software questions, and I normally had an answer. It was nice to help.
After searching and thinking about mentorship for this topic I have determined that in my current stage I need to make a lot more active effort to put myself in a position to be a mentor and to be mentored. I don't know exactly how that will play out (probably not asking "won't you be my mentor"), but I know that it is my responsibility to make sure that I won't be a lonely mentor.