What has the AIA done for me lately?

This was the thought that popped into my mind when asked to reflect on my membership in the American Institute of Architects. In the spirit of full disclosure, I haven’t always been very involved in the AIA, or even really understood its worth. I was not involved in the AIAS as a student, did not volunteer as an associate, and only finally joined after receiving my professional license.

Even now I’m surrounded by doubts about the merits of the AIA. After years of membership, my father is no longer an active member. My mentor is also not a member. If you follow our blog very closely you know that just this past week one of our very own contributors penned an incendiary post reflecting on the state of the AIAS.

So if I joined for the selfish motive of personal accomplishment (ok, maybe I did just want some credentials after my name) it was only natural to ask: what has the AIA done for me lately?

It really did not take me long to compile a fairly decent list of positive benefits gained from my (two) years of membership. Even though I may have sought simple credentials, I realize now that I’ve found a community of like minded individuals, and the world of opportunities that this entails.

Let me share a few highlights.

First: this blog. For me this has proven to be an exercise in personal growth, the challenge of expressing my voice in writing. This has translated into better proposals for my firm, better communication within my team, and the opportunity to approach architecture from another perspective.

One such opportunity was to participate in the AIA Colorado Practice and Design Conference as the social media coordinator. In this capacity I was able to conduct short interviews with a number of the speakers. From Craig Dykers to Bing Thom to Carol Ross Barney, these conversations are something that I will treasure for years to come. I’m not sure if the culmination of this experience was being awarded an AIA President’s Award for my efforts or when Mr. David Salmela approached me and stated he had enjoyed the interviews.

On a local level the relationships that I have forged are proven to be a source of fulfillment on both a personal and professional level. I spent new years eve with AIA friends and we didn’t once discuss architecture, our jobs, or the economy. Professionally I have created a network of influential people, and have recently been granted the privilege of assisting one of Denver’s most exciting firms in the creation of some 250 apartment units.

So I guess the AIA has been a positive experience for me. Good thing, as I’ve just recently been asked to renew my annual membership. I know everyone’s experience with the AIA is different, some more positive than others, but like everything else in life I’m sure it is going to give back to you what you put into it.

3 thoughts on “What has the AIA done for me lately?

  1. Excellent post, Megan. In a nutshell, AIA is about resources & networking. And, the more you put into the AIA the more you get out of it. Many members put nothing into it – and their return on investment is commensurate. The key for our organization to overcome this is to foster engagement and leverage the tremendous potential for volunteerism.

    What has the AIA done for me lately? You are the AIA.

  2. I find it interesting that each of the things that the AIA has given you has also been because you chose to invest something of yourself. That’s a crucial factor. I see too many examples where “what has ___ done for me lately?” really means “even though I choose to do nothing, what has ___ given me for free?”.

    It’s ALWAYS give and take. And, sorry, just paying your dues isn’t enough to really engage others. After all, everyone in the group has paid their dues. That’s why they’re even in the discussion.

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