Doctor in the {Haunted} Haus: Frozen in Fear

Dear Doctor,

I’ve recently noticed that a number of my peers are being recognized by our profession, and have been accepted as Fellows to the American Institute of Architects. I feel that I’m at the appropriate stage of my career to be elevated to this honor, but when I looked into the application process found that it’s really complicated, intimidating—even scary! Do you have any advice on how I can overcome these jitters about professional development?


Frozen in Fear


So, you want your name in lights? That’s terrific! Well, ’tis the witching season, so let’s hope your name isn’t lit up in lights like a jack-o’-lantern! Of course, we like Halloween (the candy part, not the ghosts and skeletons part). Eek—the Doctor shouldn’t prescribe candy, because it’s not good for you! So in the spirit of the season, let’s confront our demons, shall we, Frozen in Fear? Here’s what I think you need to do to thaw yourself out.


First, it’s essential to remember that no one else is going to toot your horn unless you do it. I know, I know—you want to think that if you design great buildings, people will see them and just call you up to design a new project (the Doctor has talked about this elsewhere, and she’s pretty sure that it’s possible for that to happen. But realistically, you can’t always rely upon that as a strong outreach strategy.)


Here’s what does work. Halloween is all about putting on a costume, right? If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of pursuing personal recognition, then the Doctor advises you to try on a new outfit. Look, this is all about your reputation, and we want to help you grow it. There are many ways to do this—getting press, winning awards for your work, and getting professional recognition for you, yourself! You—and you alone—can build your reputation. There, I said it, and it wasn’t so scary. As some of you architects know, applications for Fellowship in the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) are due on October 14. Similar professional recognition programs include the Royal Institute of British Architects’ international fellowships (FRIBA) and the American Society of Civil Engineering Fellows. Let me encourage you to start pursuing a fellowship or honorary fellowship in architecture, or whatever your field may be. There’s just no substitute for being recognized by a jury of your peers for your hard-earned work (I know, that sounds much more like a walk through a cemetery than a stroll through the roses, but bear with me!). Also, make sure you get advice from your colleagues who have been through the process—you don’t want to have to find your way in the dark. These can be time-consuming projects, but if you start early, they’re a lot, lot less scary.