The ultimate guide to AIA24 for students & emerging professionals

, Colt Brock, Assoc. AIA

As the president of AIAS, I’m beyond excited to attend AIA24! There’s no better place to prepare for your future and build your career in the AEC industry than this conference.

If you’re thinking, “what’s in it for me?”, read on for my best advice and recommendations on what not to miss and how to use AIA24 to create opportunities for your career, whether that’s mentorship, getting licensed, taking on more responsibility at your firm, and so much more.

Emerging professionals at the AIA Conference on Architecture & Design

Recommendations to enhance your AIA24 experience

Speaking from personal experience, AIA24 is truly going to be unlike any conference you may have attended before! The schedule is jam-packed with seminars, workshops, tours, open studios, and events specifically designed to help students and emerging professionals develop the skills and networks to find early career success.

Not sure where to start? Check out some of my favorites.

Education sessions

Micro-sessions, free workshops, seminars, and sessions on portfolio building, job hunting, trending design topics, materials, and a track on career success will expand your knowledge beyond the classroom, help you develop new skills that could land you your first job, and earn credits that count toward AXP experience hours.

Licensure resources

The path to licensure can be complex. There are plenty of resources at AIA24 to help you navigate the process, connect with mentors, and even earn AXP credit. Here are a few sessions to help you get ahead.

Plus, stop by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) booth for information, resources, and guidance on passing the ARE and getting licensed in your state.

Networking events

Make career-long connections, meet potential employers, and connect with AIA members, peers, and possible mentors. Many schools host alumni events so you can meet successful grads in the industry. Plus, open studios let you visit D.C.’s leading firms to experience the firm culture and meet their staff.

Career support

The AIA NextGen Lounge is an expo space dedicated to providing career support for emerging AEC professionals. Don’t miss free career coaching, portfolio and resume review, elevator pitch practice, professional headshots, and mentorship opportunities. Take advantage of these free resources, which can make all the difference in your career.

Conference tips for students & EPs

Because the opportunities for professional (and personal) development at AIA24 are endless, the experience is up to you to make the most of it. The conversations you’ll have, the people you’ll meet, the things you’ll learn, and everything in between rely on you going out and making the best of it.

Here are some tips to help you have the best experience possible:

  1. Connect with your local AIA chapter! Most chapters hold a reception, go grab dinner or drinks, or just meet up throughout the conference.
  2. Connect with AIAS, NOMAS, & your state reps from NAC! These organizations and groups have leaders (including me) in attendance waiting to connect with you.
  3. Make the NextGen Lounge your home base during the AIA24 Expo! This space is purely focused on students and EPs so you will find peers and staff ready to answer any questions you may have.
  4. Check out AIA’s first-timer’s guide! You’ll find helpful information to make the most of your experience whether it’s your first, or you just need a re-fresher.
  5. Check the schedule or reach out to your university about alumni events! Alumni come from all over the world and love to connect with current students at their alma mater.
  6. Attend as many sessions and events as you can! While it may be tempting to skip, you never know which session or event will have the information or connection crucial to your future.
  7. Come prepared! Bring some comfy shoes, an open mind, and an excitement for connecting with everyone you can. Some business cards are never a bad idea either.

Student rates & EP discounts

Lucky for us, AIA24 makes it very affordable for students and emerging professionals to attend!

A Student Pass is only $35 and includes nearly everything mentioned above: 140+ seminars, three high-profile keynotes, the industry’s largest expo, and so much more. However, you do need to pay a little extra to add tours and some events onto your registration.

For my emerging professional friends, you have a few discount options to take advantage of:

  • New AIA members: If you joined AIA in the last year, your ticket is only $159!
  • AIA members: If the new member rate no longer applies to you, you can still save big with special early bird (until April 10) and advance (until May 8) rates.
  • Non-members: If you’re not an AIA member yet, I suggest joining AIA today so you can unlock the $159 price (and take advantage of all the other benefits of an AIA membership).

For more information on registration pricing and discounts, visit the discounts page or contact the AIA24 team to ask about additional financial assistance.

See you in D.C.!

I cannot wait to see you at AIA24! There isn’t a more valuable and worthwhile conference experience for students and emerging professionals in our industry than the AIA Conference on Architecture & Design.

I hope we get the chance to connect and chat about your experience. Please be sure to say hello or ask any questions about navigating the conference or the D.C. area while you are in town. See you all very soon!