How does a profession grow and prosper?

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER has been involved recently in several discussions in which the issue of required work experience (AKA apprenticeship) and how to best earn it is the topic.  All professions rely on their members to apprentice under the supervision of established professionals in order to inculcate necessary practical experience that simply cannot be learned in an academic setting.  This real world experience is critical in the formative years of a professionals journey to examination, continuing education, ethical practice and ultimately professional status within the professional domain.

Unfortunately most of the above discussions regarding the experience component of the Interior Design Education/Experience/Examination process are sparked by questions (in the form of complaints) about the lack of supervised work opportunities.

“I cannot find a certified professional to work for-How can I find a job that fulfills this requirement?”  “Where are the certified professionals that I can work for?”

While not a new topic, or issue, it is one that deserves constant attention particularly in light of NCIDQ allowing recent ID graduates to sit for the IDFX component of the examination. A brilliant change in the paradigm but one that creates other issues (AKA opportunities) down the line.

Which begs the question…who is responsible to ensure that we (the profession) have an effective system in place to ensure that emerging professionals can gain this necessary experience?  NCIDQ is by default the agency that oversees the work experience aspect of the path to professional status. They have a voluntary reporting system in place via IDEP

However, if the IDEP candidate cannot find suitable employment and/or supervised experience opportunities a logging system does not help.

So yes this should be part and parcel of NCIDQ’s mission but this is not to say that every other organization within the professional domain should not have some skin in this game.  They should -but frankly I am not seeing it-I refuse to digress.  If nothing else it is simple self-preservation.  We should all be asking ourselves;

“How can we get as many emerging professionals through the experience gauntlet as quickly as possible?”

Well instead of simply citing a fault with the system I have a solution.  I think every newly certified/professional member of our membership organizations should be required to supervise/mentor two emerging professionals from graduation to completion of their work experience. Distance should not be a roadblock given video technology.  Money should be available for those in remote supervisory roles can at least meet with their mentees…once a year maybe in a larger forum such as Neocon……Once this obligation is fulfilled the mentor receives a merit badge, a pat on the back, or they get their picture in the newsletter, or….hell they should just do it.

It should be a routine expectation.  Do the math.

That is paying it forward…..

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