This piece was written by Annalee Groner, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP BD+C, where she reflects on the importance of finding your place within a community, and how the Women In Architecture has helped her find confidence in the profession.
When I first started working out of school it was definitely a big change. A new type of working environment, a new set of peers, new projects; I have to say it was a bit overwhelming. It took a little time but I steadily began to get the hang of things, a better understanding of the new programs I was using and the firm’s structure, becoming more and more comfortable with each day.
Within six months to a year I finally (fully) eased in; I found a place on my team and people who I could rely on as mentors. I was learning a lot quickly, which is always satisfying, yet it seemed as though there was still an aspect missing. I couldn’t quite pinpoint it, but I decided to try getting involved in more out of the office activities to find out. I started by attending more networking events, which transitioned to more architecture-specific events through the AIA. As I began to see more faces I recognized, living and working here in the South Bay started to feel more like a community. Yet, within every community, there are different neighborhoods, different blocks, different groups. So which group did I belong in?
I hadn’t heard about the Women in Architecture (WIA) prior to attending my first event. They were hosting a goal finding/career planning workshop that sounded interesting to me, so I decided to test it out. The objective of the workshop was to narrow in on short-term and long-term goals then practice communicating this information to your supervisor through a mock-review. We moved through the steps of the process over a three hour period, really asking ourselves what we were looking for and who we wanted to be in the industry. The event ended with a few final words and as I got up to leave I realized my whole demeanor had changed, not only did I feel a little more confident but even more secure with my place as a women in this industry. I had only experienced this one event and it already had an impact on my way of thinking. Right then and there I decided that this was something I wanted to be a part of, so I walked over to the Chair and asked how I could get involved.
Now, after a year of being the Director of Events for the WIA Silicon Valley, I couldn't be more happy that I chose to join. Not only have I been lucky enough to be a part of our growth, but I've been able to experience first-hand the impact the WIA continues to have on others. It's been so inspiring to a be a part of such a passionate, motivated and supportive group of people. I have definitely found my place.
So, my final advice to those of you just starting out in the industry is:
- Find Your Place - Whether it be in or out of the office, find a place where your voice can and will be heard.
- Find Your Passion - What excites you? What change do you want to be a part of or have a say in? Find and follow that excitement.
- Find Your People - Find the group that you connect with, that inspires you, and that motivates you to be the best that you can be.