Why join AIAS? It’s who you know!
"If i gained nothing else from AIAS, I have people in my life that I will value for a very very long time."
It's a simple question. One I get asked frequently and one that has an easy answer. Sometimes, members and even chapter leaders don't know that answer off the top of their head. Sometimes they think that answer is too simple and too easy for someone else to beleive. Often, we get so caught up in our desire to have someone else join and enjoy the success and fun that we have, we oversell the organization.
It's hard to give a simple answer to an organization that offers SO MUCH to its members:
On campus, the AIAS is the fastest way to get to know other members of the architecture program, faculty, administrators, professionals in the community and others. Joining the AIAS gets you an automatic invitation to meetings and events where you have the opportunity to mingle with other people who share your passion for design, the built community, the social fabric of our country, sustainability, etc. You will never find a group of people who share as many of your interests and challenges, your joys and concerns, than the AIAS.
Beyond your local community the AIAS is an international organization. Becoming a member of the AIAS allows you an instant connection to students of architecture across the country and around the world. The AIAS has chapters at over 150 other campuses in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Sharjah and Dubai. At any given time 10% of AIAS’s roughly 7000 members are studying abroad and may be part of a program you attend. The AIAS has multiple Facebook Pages, Linked in groups, Twitter feeds and other means of interacting regardless of geography. And the AIAS hosts 2 National Level conferences and 8 regional conferences every year that allow you to take a simple “road trip” or a flight to spend a weekend with your peers and future colleagues.
The AIAS is well known in the profession as well. Having been around for over 50 years, nearly all professional Architects, and many individuals who are following non-traditional careers in architecture are familiar with the organization. The AIAS has strong support and connections with local firm leaders across the country, powerful ties to the AIA at the national and local level, and connections to other groups from the NCARB (the licensing boards of your state) to Autodesk to Architect magazine and beyond.
Being a member of the AIAS means you will be invited to attend your local AIA meetings, that you will have guest speakers from many aspects of the profession come and speak at your chapter meetings. Being a member of the AIAS means you will frequently have opportunities to meet and engage with people who will be highly meaningful in your academic and professional career. Both current professionals, and the people with whom you are studying right now who will end up being your colleagues and may even work alongside you from time to time.
Which leads to a powerful additional benefit of networking, which is:
The AIAS provides you with the opportunities to have multiple mentors throughout your academic career. The most important and least obvious are other students. AIAS members frequently mentor one another. The University of Detroit Mercy has a tremendous mentoring program where “upperclass” students mentor incoming students in the program. Having access not only to one, but to an entire organization of people who have already walked the path you are on and can provide you with suggestions, support and guidance will help you avoid mistakes, find the best deals and advantages, and give you someone to turn to when the workload is too high or personal challenges are blocking your ability to succeed.
The AIAS also provides many opportunities to receive mentorship from professionals. The AIAS connections with the AIA and with architecture firms around the world create a network of people whom you may reach out to. Take advantage of it. By joining, find out what the reality of the profession is like, and get some wisdom on how to best prepare yourself for success.
Even relating to faculty and the school administration, the AIAS provides mentoring opportunities. Each AIAS chapter has a faculty advisor. These folks can be wonderful resources in addition to your own faculty advisor and may have different experiences and insights to share.
The AIAS also has strong relationships with similar student groups around the world, and will be attending the UIA (International Union of Architects) conference to continue those relationships.
There are also other student architect groups such as NOMAS and GBCStudents, as well as school specific clubs that the AIAS works with both at the national and local level.
However it is important to realize that none of these groups are independent and national in scope. Most are simply student offshoots of another professional organization, or are simply campus level clubs. Only the AIAS is run by students for students, and only the AIAS also has the national level connections with groups from the AIA to the Dept. of Energy to the National Building Museum. Only the AIAS has both the name recognition among professionals and the contacts that allow student to come as equals to their peers and professionals around the world.
Join the AIAS! Attend chapter meetings, visit the local AIA, attend a Quad conference at another school, do a road trip to another chapter, and then attend the national conference AIAS FORUM. You will meet, influence and be influenced by some of the most amazing people that will ever come into your life.
Joining the AIAS provides you with quick and easy access to a universe of people who are engaged in similar pursuits and can offer you support from friendship to career advice. But while incredibly important, this isn’t the simple answer to why you should join the AIAS.