The Spark in Mentorship

So there I was with only three bags in the trunk of my car, driving down the Front Range ready for an adventure. As much as I love my tiny hometown in South Dakota, I couldn’t stay there. No way. The moment I finished my last ARE, I was outta there!  I knew I had to be in an urban setting where the pioneering spirit sparked innovation and design…and that just wasn’t happening in the Black Hills. I drove into Denver knowing practically no one, just a few college classmates. I knew if I wanted to get established in the architectural community, then I needed guidance and connections.

One of the first things I did was meet with Christopher Nims, FAIA, Director of Mentorships and Internships Programs at University of Colorado Denver’s College of Architecture & Planning. I was told the mentorship program he directed was not only available to CU students but also to Associate AIA members. During our meeting we discussed a range of topics from the current status of the job market to my work background, education and career goals in architecture. Chris was very gracious and said he had a few mentors in mind for me. About a month later he paired me with Mary Morissette, AIA, the AIA Colorado 2010 President. By the end of my first lunch with Mary, I knew Chris couldn’t have made a better match for me. Over the past six months, my relationship with Mary has been guiding, inspiring and fun. Many other friendships have developed through the AIA and I cherish those connections to the architecture community.

Recently I spoke with Chris and asked him what he looks for when making a mentorship match. He responded that although similar backgrounds and achievements are valid, what really makes a good match is “intellectual resonance,” that unexplainable spark between personalities.  Chris admits that successfully pairing mentees with mentors isn’t done with a “shot gun” mentality but rather careful consideration personalities, accomplishments and interests.

This Thursday, Oct. 21, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., there will be an AIA Colorado Mentorship Social at Blake Street Tavern in Denver (2401 Blake St., Denver, CO 80205).  To anyone who wants to be a mentor or mentee, I encourage you to attend this event.

“In the context of architectural internship, mentorship is the key that helps each intern to develop into a masterful architect. The art and craft of building developed over the centuries, in large part due to trusted master-apprentice relationships.” –The Survival Guide to Architectural Internship and Career Development

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