Now that the 2021 Young Architect Summer Series has come to a close, I can officially say that my first summer conference was a success! I had a fantastic experience hearing from industry leaders and seasoned professionals and met so many people who welcomed me further into the Young Architect community. The past five days have been full of inspiration and encouragement, which can be hard to always find in a virtual setting.
My first experience with the Young Architect conferences was with the 2021 Winter Series this past January. Although it was also a virtual conference, I found myself shying away from the networking events and group discussions, while diving head-first into the education and panelist sessions. I learned so much about the architecture industry as a whole but realized that I didn’t take enough time to get to know the people in architecture: the licensed, the newly licensed, the aspiring licensed, and even those who have found a passion for design. I made a commitment to myself to network with more attendees for the Summer Series, and this time, I learned that no matter how much I chatted with other attendees or participated in virtual meetups, I always wanted more! The Young Architect conferences have cultivated an entire support network for those in architecture, no matter their age or experience level. Even those who I may not have had the pleasure of meeting in group settings, I feel confident that I can introduce myself and chat with them as if we are old friends. That is the community I have found in Young Architect: inspiration, encouragement, and support.
While at the Summer Series conference, I heard from speakers on topics ranging from the more technical skills in architecture to some of the “soft skills” that come with being a student or young professional. Emily Burton’s “Procrastination Game Show” session shared tips on how to stay productive and efficient when many of us are still adjusting to being back in the office. Joanna LaBounty provided valuable insights about fostering successful mentor-mentee relationships in her session, titled “Mindful Mentorships with Mentors and Mentees.” The key takeaways from these sessions, and many others, have already jump-started my workday productivity by having a more structured schedule and healthier communications with my coworkers.
There were two sessions that especially stuck with me, and while they were architecture-related, they provided insights into the value that architects and designers truly bring to the world. The first panel discussion, with Joanne Lui and Paul Keskeys, shared alternative careers that many of us in the industry would thrive in: Graphic design, photography, journalist, teacher, politician… Many of these careers use a blend of creativity, technical skills, and social climate knowledge that architects already possess. The second panel discussion, presented by Andrew “Ace” Houston and Nikki Crane, detailed how architects and design professionals can better serve their community outside of the office, whether through public office, activism, or urban design. Both sessions spoke to the role that architecture plays in our communities and our own professional development.
The Young Architect Summer Series came at a time when a lot of big changes were happening in my life, and while none of the changes were bad, it was overwhelming to feel myself growing both personally and professionally in a short amount of time. Connecting with the YASS community and hearing from the keynote speakers truly changed my mindset to appreciate and embrace the changes. Young Architect has taken on the role of developing the NEXT generation of architects and using these newfound skills from the YASS conference, I can start planning my career to become one of those future architects.