April 6, 2022 by 2019-2020 Equity & Diversity Task Force, 2019-2020 Sustainability & Resiliency Task Force, 2020-2021 Council of Global Representatives, 2020-2021 Learning & Teaching Culture Advisory Group, 2021-2022 Professional Development Advisory Group

The AIAS Grassroots Leadership Conference will feature many educational sessions that will not only help you become a better leader, but will also give you a leg up in your career. This year’s Grassroots will cover many topics that will help our members excel in the workforce. Below are a few ways you can take advantage of attending Grassroots in-person to make sure you’re set up for success in the architecture profession!


Okay, you’ve heard it before, “networking is everything!” But what does that really mean for emerging professionals in architecture? For one, it simply means making friends with fellow architecture and design students. Your network should not only include your studio pals from home, but also the amazing students who share your passion for architecture around the world! Grassroots brings our community together, and one of your primary goals should be to find new friends while you’re here in D.C.! They might become future co-workers or even business partners. These new friends can also share important perspectives on their education and career path that you might not have access to at your school. Try asking questions about similar or different classes, dream jobs, and of course what AIAS looks like at their program.  


The “networking” that our parents might be talking about however, often comes with the connotation of passing around business cards to future employers and wearing uncomfortable clothes. That’s really just not it at all for the AIAS. Just like making new friends who are studying architecture, networking with professionals means making new friends and finding those awesome individuals who are interested in your success. This might mean talking to someone from the AIA, a local architecture firm, NCARB, or maybe even an AIAS partner. If they are attending Grassroots, you already have the benefit of knowing that they really care about the next generation of architects and designers and would be happy to chat with you about whatever is on your mind, even if it’s something basic! “How did you know you wanted to be a part of the architecture profession?” is always a great way to get to know someone.

Learning About Different Career Paths

We might have given it away with the last example, but there really is so much to learn about when it comes to your potential career path. One way to become an expert is to learn all about becoming a Student Licencing Advisor, who gives students a voice in the licensure process as a local licensure advisor on campus. In addition to getting all the information from NCARB that you can about going through the education, experience, and examination requirements to become a licenced architect, at Grassroots you’ll also have the opportunity to ask questions to local firms, architects, other professionals, and our own AIAS leaders about their experiences creating their own career paths in and outside of architecture.

Take Notes

While talking to all your new friends is invaluable, so is taking notes and engaging with our speakers. As always, we will have an amazing lineup of keynote speakers, session speakers, and hands-on workshops to get you thinking creatively about how you want to approach your education and career. Be open to new ideas, and don’t hesitate to share some of your own as well! Don’t forget your sketchbook, we’re sure you’re going to be inspired!

Become a Leader in the AIAS

Time and time again we hear from professionals how much their time as AIAS leaders helped better prepare them for the working world. Not only will you get training if you are interested in becoming a leader at your local AIAS chapter, but you will also have access to latest information on national leadership opportunities such as national AIAS committees, CRIT Journal editorial team, or running for national office in the winter. After the incoming National President announces the AIAS committees for the year, applications will open up over the summer and committees will start work at the beginning of the academic year. This means Grassroots is a perfect time to think about what committees you might be interested in applying for! You don’t have to have a leadership position at your local chapter to apply, the AIAS is always looking for passion and dedication before a full resume. Speaking of resumes, adding your work as a leader in the AIAS locally, nationally on a committee, or becoming a member on the AIAS’s National Board of Directors will help you stand out as you apply for jobs. Employers want to know that you’re engaged and have the skills of a leader! To learn more about AIAS committees and leadership positions, make sure you attend the Leadership Q&A at Grassroots!

Explore the City

Have you thought about working in Washington, D.C. before? Whether your answer is yes or no, this is a great opportunity to see what it is like to live and work in the capital of the United States. Going on our Grassroots firm tours and building tours around the city will give you that first person perspective that can’t be recreated. Plus, you’ll be able to ask all kinds of questions to our AIAS National Officers (outgoing Vice President Shannon DeFranza and President Scott Cornelius) about how they have enjoyed working in D.C. for the past year. Did you know that both AIAS national officers live and work in D.C. while they serve their year in office? As per AIAS tradition, the outgoing president will also lead a guided tour of the monuments during Grassroots! That would be a great time to ask your questions, there’s plenty of walking time between all those monuments. 

Get a Job! 

Alright, the most straightforward of the ways Grassroots is good for your career is of course to get a job while at Grassroots! As part of the conference we will also be hosting a Career Expo where firms will be set up at their tables and excited to chat with you about your career goals. Often our expo guests are looking for summer interns or emerging professionals to fill positions at their firms, so don’t hesitate to bring your portfolio and ask! Even if they are not hiring right now, the expo is a great chance to practice those networking skills and create connections so when they are hiring, your name is already familiar. You might also meet your next mentor who can guide you through tough decisions in school or your career. Don’t be afraid to ask for a chance to talk to them again after the conference as well! 

Regardless of whether you serve on your AIAS chapter’s executive board or not, Grassroots is for YOU! There are so many opportunities to grow as a leader in your school, but also to grow as a professional. We hope you’re able to join us in DC this July for Grassroots.

Learn more and Register!