Book Review: The Survival Guide to Architectural Internship and Career Development By Grace H. Kim, AIA
By Murrye Bernard, Assoc. AIA
I wish Grace Kim's new book, The Survival Guide, had been around when I was a new college graduate. In those days, we had to navigate the job market and internship process on our own--the proverbial equivalent to the uphill, both ways, in the snow scenario. Now, no one has to endure that ordeal.
The book answers every conceivable question about internship, licensure, and beyond. It is a must read for soon-to-be graduates, interns in their first few years of practice, and those who haven't taken the ARE and find themselves in a perpetual state of internship, as well as those pursuing nontraditional careers. A first of its kind and a definitive reference, this book is not necessarily one to be read cover to cover. Rather, it is meant to serve as a guide throughout the beginning of one's career.
Topics include: finding a job in a fim that is right for you, IDP, ARE, professional practice and development, mentorship, nontraditional career paths, working abroad, and starting your own firm. Kim supplements her text with essays by interns from around the world, who provide first-hand accounts of their experiences. In addition, Kim includes helpful checklists and worksheets to aid in exploring one's personal career path. Tips are dispersed throughout the text--while often common sense, they are nonetheless helpful reminders. At the end of the book, Kim provides references and a comprehensive bibliography for further reading.
As a young practitioner--principal and cofounder of Schemata Workshop, an architectural collaborative in Seattle--Grace Kim is a former IDP coordinator and has mentored many interns. Her writing is colored by her experience and she takes an informal, candid approach. While no substitute for a real-life mentor, this book serves to fill in the gaps.
I attended a seminar at the 2006 AIA National Convention in Los Angeles presented by Grace Kim and Lee Waldrep, the author of Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design. The seminar was conducted in a workshop format, allowing for interaction within smaller groups. Kim believes in the power of peer mentoring, as explained through her ladder metaphor:
"I'd like to share with you my ladder metaphor related to mentoring. If you can imagine a large ladder with all of us standing on rungs representing different stages in our architectural career, there is someone just ahead of you and others immediately behind you. But the gaps between the rungs may at times appear too distant and it may not be clear how you can advance to the next one. For each person these large gaps may appear at different points in their career. So no matter where you are in your career, you have the ability to be a mentor by sharing the knowledge you possess with those on the rung behind you. Reaching back to provide them a helpful hand to pull up to the next rung can make a big difference for them and a huge difference for the future of our profession. You may know this from a personal experience yourself. I would encourage you to keep this metaphor in mind as you progress through your career--I think you will find that mentorship will bring you many personal and professional rewards in ways that you'd never imagine by simply reaching back to help someone advance to the next rung."
The Survival Guide to Architectural Internship and Career Development is published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. It can be purchased at the Wiley Web site. Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design by Lee Waldrep, is also published by Wiley.
Murrye Bernard, Assoc. AIA, is a marketing executive at the Polshek Partnership. Previously, she worked for Polk Stanley Rowland Curzon Porter Architects, Ltd., based in Little Rock, Ark., and Architecture Plus, based in Monroe, La. A member of the AIA since 2004, she is an ArchVoices representative on the 2005 AIA/ArchVoices/NCARB Internship & Career Survey committee. Murrye earned her BArch, cum laude, from the University of Arkansas in 2004. She is currently completing NCARB's IDP. A native of Monroe, La., Murrye now resides in New York with her boyfriend Benjamin Ellis.
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