As I walked into the event, I felt solitary. Same feeling I would get going to a club to meet up with a friend who I hoped was already there. Here I am and I know no one. How am I going to meet people? Who am I going to talk to? Why did I come here in the first place? Just don’t be a wallflower Meg. Worst comes to worst, hide out on the dance floor.
Those were my thoughts as I braved into my first AIA Denver event, YAAG 2010. I had just moved to Denver and only new a handful of architects. I had no idea how big or small the community was…until that night.
When I first walked in I ran into Cheryl, who I met at a Women In Design event. I asked if she knew Mary, my mentor that I was paired with by Chris. Of course! She’s right over there! And Chris is talking to those guys over there!
It snowballed from there. I don’t even remember if there was a dance floor. As I left the event with six business cards in hand I knew it was a very successful networking night for me. I had a hunch that this was the way I’d find an architecture job in Denver. I had to get more involved in AIA.
Fast forward 2.5 years to last Thursday at the AIA Denver Annual Meeting.
I get there early and say Hi to all the awesome AIA staff. I make my way over to the food – got to get the good stuff first, plus once people get here it will be hard to eat. Nathan joins me at the buffet and we chat about our firms and the projects we’re on. Moments later I see an Associate member who arrived solo. He’s standing at a table alone while taking in the scene. I have empathy for this guy as I think back to my first AIA event. I put down my hummus, straighten my name tag listing the committees I’m on and go say Hello.
Of the Associates who attended the AIA Denver Meeting, I would guess half or more are looking for architectural work. Their chances of finding a job increased tenfold by attending that event and meeting people. Good for you for getting out on a Thursday evening and stepping into a place that can be very good for your career!
Want to know the next step? Get involved! It’s one thing to attend the parties and eat the food. But it’s getting involved in the committees where you can really get the attention of perspective employers.
This upcoming year is prime with opportunities for Associates to get involved in AIA, especially within the AIA Denver Chapter. The position of Associate Director on the AIA Denver Board of Directors is open starting next year. If you’re interested in running, here’s the information to get on the ballot. AIA Denver also has an Associates Committee, ACAD, that has unfortunately dormant this year and looking for leadership for next year. Are you a passionate person who has creative ideas for events for Associates? Then maybe this is your calling. Maybe you’ve got a friend who wants to do it too. Co-Chair! Contact Pomie at the AIA Colorado Office.
I often get asked, “What do you get out of AIA?” As the New Radicals put it…You Get What You Give.
So get out there, meet people, and give.