Connecting Through Mentorship

We can’t learn everything in school. What’s the missing bridge of a student to a professional? Experience? Sure. Age? Sure. More than likely though, that development happens years after graduation. Why not before? Why not start the process of acclimation during school? 

AIAS SD has recently paired with AIA SD in a mentorship opportunity to address this very question.

Our intention for the program was to give students an opportunity to connect with professionals in a flexible and informal setting. Students have a chance to gain insight into the field through a professional with similar interests. Likewise, professionals have a chance to reconnect with the world of academia through the lens of a student immersed in it. The paired mentor/mentee may then collaborate and determine when and how their connection will be fulfilled. Through the program we hope to strengthen ties between AIA SD and AIAS. Eleven mentors from SD firms were paired with eleven mentees of SDSU’s DoArch. We are excited to announce the new Mentorship program between AIA SD and the AIAS chapter at SDSU. 

What is a mentor?


[ men-tawr, -ter ]


  • a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.
  • an influential senior sponsor or supporter.




  • the guidance provided by a mentor, especially an experienced person in a company or educational institution.

The Pairing Process

Questions asked:

  • Why are you interested in the mentor program?
  • What are your expectations of a potential mentor/mentee?
  • What are some of your hobbies?

Many answers to the first two questions were similar among all mentor and mentee applicants. The deciding factor was the third question. Although the program was for a connection between AIAS and AIA SD, it is also an opportunity to connect with people of similar interests and learn how those interests factor into their work.

The Early Stages

Despite the fact that the first round of pairings only occurred within the past few months, we have received great initial feedback from students about meaningful conversations, helpful tips, and of course discussions on what the weather looks like from their workplace/home window. It has been so encouraging to hear about the positive impacts a simple half hour call can make. Granted, these bi-weekly or monthly calls won’t last forever, but it is safe to say that hopefully the relationship will.

Pass it On

Circling back to some of the key takeaways from AIAS’ Forum conference this year, we had mentioned Carl Sergio and his talk about mentorship. One thing we were reminded of from him is that you do not have to fill out an application to be a mentor. It is just as important to have colleagues across the room who can help you learn and strive to be the best you can be (cheesy, but true). So while this program is invaluable in creating a link where we otherwise don’t have that “other side of the office or studio” connection, it is always a good reminder that you can be a mentor to anyone. All it takes is to listen, respond, and lend a helping hand.

By: Autumn Schlomer and Jocelyn Rothmeier

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