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At a glance

Intern Think Tank:
Are You Interested in Shaping the Future of Internship?

What do you think a future version of an internship program should look like? Here is your opportunity to get involved and be a part of decisions that are made for the future.

This December, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) will host its first Intern Think Tank in Washington, DC. The think tank will explore blue-sky ideas related to the future of internship, analyze the current program's real-world implementation and effectiveness, and inform the Intern Development Program (IDP) from the perspective of the intern community. The think tank's findings will be reported to the Council's other committees and Board of Directors and considered when making future program changes.

Interns interested in participating must fill out an application that includes an essay on "why internship and licensure matter" and will need a reference from one of the Council's 54 U.S. Member Boards or an American Institute of Architects (AIA) component executive. The selection committee will also consider interns recommended by other U.S. architects. The application will be available October 15.

Other qualifications:

  • Unlicensed at the time of application
  • At least six months of approved IDP experience (930 hours) and an active NCARB Record
  • Available to travel and meet 13-16 December 2012
  • Willingness and ability to participate in approximately five (5) conference calls
  • Willingness and ability to conduct up to 10 hours of research throughout the next year

A total of 12 interns will be selected to serve on the think tank. The Council is looking for interns who have not held an officer or other leadership role within any architectural collateral organization (NCARB, AIA, AIAS, ACSA, or NAAB). The interns selected will receive IDP leadership and service hours.

Questions? Contact Nick Serfass at for more information.

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What's an IDP Coordinator?
IDP coordinators exist to facilitate the flow of information to students and interns on the path to licensure. These individuals, who are often volunteers, usually provide the first introduction to the licensure process for students and interns. They play a significant role in educating and guiding interns through the process. There are three types of IDP coordinators:

  • IDP educator coordinators: Appointed by the dean of each architecture school with a NAAB-accredited degree program. They are responsible for distributing information and providing guidance to students at their school on the IDP and the path to licensure. Students at a NAAB-accredited program can find their educator coordinator [here].
  • IDP state coordinators: Appointed by each state AIA component. They are volunteers that stay up-to-date on the latest information on the IDP, ARE, and state licensing requirements, acting as resources for interns in their state. They often give presentations and participate on AIA and NCARB committees related to the IDP. You can find the name of your IDP state coordinator [here].
  • IDP auxiliary coordinators: Volunteers that educate their community about the IDP. They are often associated with firms, local AIA components, state boards, or AIAS chapters—but can be anybody participating in the licensure process.

Find out who your IDP coordinator is and let them know if you have questions about the process. They are here to help.

Interested in becoming an auxiliary coordinator? You are eligible to be an auxiliary coordinator if you meet one of the following requirements:

  1. An architect licensed in a U.S. jurisdiction or Canadian province.
  2. An NCARB Record holder who has completed IDP.
  3. An NCARB Record holder who is participating in IDP.
  4. An individual interested in assisting interns pursuing licensure as an architect.

[Download] the rest of the job description of an IDP auxiliary coordinator.

By signing up, you will receive access to additional tools and resources that can help you assist interns in your firm. If you are interested, contact

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A Roadmap for IDP Success
by Paul Labay, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Each year as I meet with incoming interns, I am often asked what advice I can offer to assist them on their path through the profession. Over the years I have developed a simple, straightforward checklist to help identify opportunities as you develop your skills during the first several years. As you progress through the Intern Development Program (IDP), be sure to address the following:

  1. Ask Questions

    As simple as it may sound, asking questions is the single, best way to get the directions you will need to move ahead in your profession. Asking questions and listening, really listening, to the answers will help establish a strong early partnership with both your supervisor and mentor and open exciting opportunities for you in your early years. Employers are always looking to promote from within, especially for individuals who are eager to learn more about the firm and the profession as a whole.

  2. Work With a Mentor

    In addition to identifying an IDP mentor outside of your organization, look for internal mentors, especially if your firm offers an in-house mentoring program. One of the best ways to address professional development questions on any subject is through the experienced staff already in place at your firm. Most staff members are invaluable in helping an intern identify opportunities to fulfill IDP credits, and can offer ideas and advice on how best to plan and prepare for taking the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®). Working with internal mentors also develops strong relationships with your senior staff, giving them a feeling of confidence that the next generation is taking the steps necessary to move the firm forward.

  3. Identify and Pursue Opportunities for Professional Growth

    Seeking educational opportunities is critical to your professional growth. Although your day-to-day work will form the basis for your professional experience, there are many other ways to enrich your development. Look for chances to accompany your mentor or supervisor when they schedule planning reviews with local governing agencies for a project. You can also research opportunities to attend meetings where technical papers are being presented (at a university or an AIA event). Consider earning special certifications or credentials, some of which may be eligible for IDP credit, such as LEED AP. If your firm offers “lunch and learn” or similar educational sessions, these are a great way to augment your knowledge on a specific topic and also offer the chance to network and hear more about what’s happening in the firm.

    Another great educational opportunity is to assist senior team members on regularly scheduled site visits during the construction phase of a project. Walking a project site and watching a new design become a reality in the built environment is not only exciting personally, it also provides a wealth of knowledge with regard to understanding up-to-date construction techniques and can help you earn credits in the sometimes difficult to achieve Construction Phase — Observation experience area. Interns can also earn up to 40 core hours in this category by visiting construction sites with their IDP mentor.

  4. Be an Ambassador

    Whenever an opportunity arises that will allow you to support your firm in a public forum, be sure to take it. Look for opportunities such as town hall meetings or through service with one of the many charitable organizations (e.g., United Way, Habitat for Humanity, or Hearts and Hammers). All interns are required to earn a minimum number of IDP credit hours in the experience area of Leadership and Service, so be sure to take full advantage of these opportunities when available.

    Another great way to serve as an ambassador is by taking an active role in providing guidance to other interns. Sharing your experiences and lessons learned can be helpful to your fellow interns, especially those just getting started. Consider volunteering as an IDP auxiliary coordinator, which can enhance your professional development and demonstrate leadership skills. In this role, you’ll have the chance to help shape a firm culture that supports intern development and to help ensure that interns have the necessary resources and opportunities to progress through the IDP and toward licensure.

  5. Become a Licensed Professional

    For most interns, the initial thought of hunkering down to study for the ARE seems a daunting task, especially while enduring the rigors of their first job opportunity. Don’t let this deter your efforts. Stay proactive, establish a reasonable study schedule for yourself, and stick with it! Many firms already have study materials available to interested candidates and are even willing to help establish study groups if the interest is great enough. Pursuing (and finally passing) the exam will be one of the highlights of your career. Be sure to check out the requirements for the jurisdiction where you plan to seek initial licensure—most will allow concurrent completion of the IDP and ARE, which can streamline the time to licensure.

    Achieving licensure means you will be able to use the official title of “architect” and will give you and your employer the added professional firepower needed to market your firm in future pursuits. Becoming a licensed architect is the culmination of an important professional journey, and to get even more value out of your career, your next stop should be NCARB certification, which will give you and your firm added mobility and a competitive edge.


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online reporting system login

NCARB Broadens Opportunities to Earn IDP Hours

New Data From NCARB Reveals Key Trends in the Profession

NCARB by the Numbers: Frequently Asked Questions

2012 IDP Coordinators Conference: Architectural Leadership Discusses Licensure

2012 IDP Coordinators Conference: Sharing Best Practices

2012 NCARB Annual Meeting: Looking Forward to FY13

Attention Canadian Interns
In July 2013, NCARB will no longer include Canada-specific content in the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®). Please contact your Canadian provincial association for more information on how this may impact you. [more]

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