Emerging professionals, don’t wait; take charge of your own career learning paths now!
What’s typical of the A/E and design profession is you likely began with a BA or MA in your chosen field of study. The majority of design professionals will not add additional formal academic training to their resumes after graduation. Most interns and newly minted architects, engineers and designers hope and expect that they will start with a firm and participate in their in-house training activities. Currently, the typical training path starts with a lot of web surfing. “Structured learning” will likely be a mixture of in-house lunch sessions, on-the job training, webinars, and maybe some association conferences. Some lucky emerging professionals will connect with a mentor willing to assist them in designing a career learning path. In time, a few may be selected to participate in a specialized workshop or seminar. A small percentage of young professionals are even sponsored to receive specialized certification.
Unfortunately, results rarely match expectations. A major obstacle that is working against finding that perfect training firm is tradition. In the A/E design field only a few firms have well organized, structured learning opportunities, academies or universities. A/E firms were progressing well in developing their training centers until the Great Recession forced staff reductions. Among the first staff to be released and benefits to be cut back - anyone or anything that was not billable. Training in the A/E industry falls under that category. The industry has been slow to recover. A second obstacle to overcome is trust. That is, trust among some firm leaders about training staff and then losing them to their competition.
Would you erect a building without a foundation? Why expect that your professional education development would be any different? Consider the following:
* Few companies provide a “what you need to learn” outline for you. During your annual job performance appraisal you may be lucky enough to have a manager who is willing to take the necessary time to work with you to outline a one or two year training plan.
* If at all possible, find two, three or more trusted leaders or mentors that will advise you on the development of a career learning path. If you were making a life altering medical decision wouldn't you seek a second or third opinion?
* For established awareness, practitioner and mastery content do not overlook your professional associations. Some associations such as AIA and ACEC provide recommended curriculum that you can use as a guideline. (See my related professional curriculum blogs: Personal & Association).
Distinguish yourself at your convenience by earning:
BADGES has emerged as a recognized way to document your achievements in professional development. They can support and enhance your career portfolio and may help illuminate a learning path.
CERTIFICATION is a designation earned by a person to assure qualification to perform a job or task. Industry examples include ASQ, CSI, LEED, and PMI.
MOOC (Massive open online course) There is a growing list of free college and university course available. For various fees, some of the courses provide digital badges, certificates, and/or college credit. These can be a great opportunity for when it applies to your professional interest or job. These college courses do require work. The completion rate is around 5-10%, being highest in the business sector.