Updated: Oct 12, 2020
As the new NCARB's Architect Licensing Advisor for AIA Florida, I attended to the LAS'19 celebrated on August 1-3, 2019 in Minneapolis Minnesota where I was invited to be one of the four panelists for two workshops and we discussed important topics related to finding balance to achieve ARE success. During the panel discussion, three talented men and myself had a very interesting conversation where each one of us brought something unique and special to the table. This was a very well balanced panel, rich in diversity and inclusion. I was honored to be the only woman in the group... and as you can see in the image below, I had a lot to say!
The panel was formed by (from left to right):
- Gloria Kloter, AIA, NCARB, CODIA
Studio+, Tampa, FL
- Mauricio Ochoa, Assoc. AIA
DJR Architecture, Minneapolis, MN
- Kyle Palzer, Assoc. AIA
Kodet Architectural Group, Minneapolis, MN
- Alexander Christoforidis, AIA, AICP, LEED AP
University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
I can give you a summary of what I shared from my own perspective about the main four topics we talked about during the presentations:
My biggest "WHY" is being able to call myself an "Architect". I didn't went to school for all of those years to call myself anything else. Period.
Ownership of your work and designs.
Going beyond the glass ceiling.
2. Game Plan:
Language barrier for Foreign Architects and Emerging Professionals: this is a real issue and if English is your second language you need a plan of attack for it, and understand the tools you have available to help you overcome these challenges, like google translate, memorization classes, etc.
Time commitment (hours per week): understanding how much time you have available is important, but committing to it is even more important. I learned during the ARE Bootcamp by Michael Riscica from www.youngarchitect.com how to track my weekly hours which helped me to keep myself accountable.
Creating a syllabus: this is the best way to have structure and direction on what you're supposed to be doing each day.
House keeping tasks: Kids schedule, family events, work commitments, holidays... You need to plan ahead for those and you need to learn to delegate some of these to someone else in your inner circle, either your spouse, family member or roommate. You also will need to be more tolerant with the cleaning status of your home and you'll need to learn to say "NO" to a lot of social/family events without feeling guilty for it.
Resting: You also need to plan for this, because if you don't you'll burn out. Planning and being intentional about resting, eat properly, and have quality time with your loved ones is what will keep your sanity in place.
Acknowledge those around you: As Mike Riscica always says: "Your family can make you or brake you". Make sure they know how much you appreciate their support and love during this process. They're are also suffering in a different way with all the sacrifices you're making.
3. Support Network:
NCARB's Licensing Advisors: Contact the Architect Licensing Advisor from your state and use them as a resource.
Get a mentor: I had three. One in my job, one through The ARE Facebook Group, and one through the ARE Bootcamp. You can't never have enough mentors in this process as they all bring a different perspective to your table.
ARE Bootcamp by Michael Riscica: This was a life changing for me. Taking the Bootcamp changed my life and it made me a better person, a better architect, a better mentor and a better leader altogether. If you're considering to join them, just do it, you won't regret it! Visit www.youngarchitect.com for more info.
AIA Local Study Groups: Get involved. Find out what your local AIA Chapter is doing for the ARE Candidates and if nothing is going on, that's a great opportunity for you to be a leader and volunteer to create a local ARE support group in your community.
Online Support Groups: As I mentioned above The ARE Facebook Group is an online support group for ARE candidates, but also you can find support in other channels like the Foreign Architects Closed Group, ARE google forums, etc.
4. Studying for the ARE
Knowing yourself: you need to know when you're sharp, when your brain is rested and clear to read and study and when it's fried and reading just wouldn't work. Understanding these differences is important because you need to be strategic about it, to plan for when is the best time to do readings vs when you should just do practice questions, flashcards or watch videos. What worked for me was to read in the mornings, practice questions during lunch time at work and watch videos/flashcards/short quizzes at night.
Practice questions: use practice questions the right way. Don't try to memorize the questions you get in the mock exams, as you'll not get those questions in the real exams. Try to use the practice questions as a tool to understand your weaknesses and the areas where you need to spend more time studying.
Mentor others: teaching this content to others is the most powerful tool to learn it better, deeper and faster. Trust me on this one! Also, a good leader lift others up with them as they rise.
The night before the exam: sleep. You need to stop studying early the day before, especially if your exams is next day in the morning. You need to rest. Being rested the day of the exam is more important than anything else to help your brain recall the information that it's already inside of it. You're not going to learn 10 more concepts in 2 hours... But you can get over stressed and stay up all night thinking about these things and the next day your brain may feel fatigue, which is the worst as it can cause your brain to just go blank during the exam, no matter how much you know and how well you know it, being well rested is 50% of the battle. Try whatever it works for you, stop studying around 5:00 pm the day before the exam, take a hot shower, get a massage, do yoga... Anything that could help your mind to disconnect and get in resting mode on time that night. One thing I noticed was that watching TV or getting on social media the night before didn't help either, as sometimes I was adding extra information to my brain that I didn't need, so watch out with that!
The day of the exam: Have a decent breakfast, bring water to the test center. Take your break after taking a look at the case studies (that's what worked best for me at least), stretch out during your brake, and trust your gut, your first instinct is usually right!
Anyhow, I hope this helps you as much as it helped me! You got this, so go get them tiger!