Founded in 2000 by two young designers, the Young Designer Core (YDC) began as a grassroots initiative. The primary goal was to supplement young designer’s professional development through educational opportunities. Twelve years later the YDC has expanded its original objectives and its reach.
I became a YDC co-chair last year. When I accepted I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I understood I would be responsible for organizing events and creating educational opportunities. What I didn’t realize was how invested I was going to become and how innovative the YDC efforts could be.
Since the beginning, the YDC has provided resources and opportunities for continuing education. Construction tours and guest lecturers have been successful ways to help staff advance through their internships while learning about the evolving profession. Because the YDC began and remains a volunteer initiative, the programming consistently changes to meet shifting needs and interests. Recently we created an online resource to help guide staff through the IDP/ARE process and share common experiences and advice. In the past month we have nearly doubled the number of staff actively pursuing their ARE’s.
The YDC plays multiple roles in the office, in addition to the focus on education; the group strengthens the culture and networking within the firm as well. In the past year we organized many all-staff events like a Thanksgiving Potluck, a Bocce Tournament on the greenway and a Trivia Lunch. Each of these events gained popularity and found a place within the firm’s culture. Opportunities like these serve to break down barriers across the staff; placing emerging and experienced professionals in a neutral environment. Such interactions pave the way for community and relationship building often leading to mentorship and professional development.
The YDC places importance on the engagement of young designers. Events are not merely supposed to be educational, but they are meant to be captivating, thought provoking and leave a lasting impression. By hosting a variety of events the YDC reaches more people with more interests. Events such as Lunch with the President, the YDC Workshop and a Principal’s Presentation are all important ways which the YDC fosters conversation and feedback throughout all levels of the firm.
By enhancing daily project work with new, exciting experiences and learning opportunities, the YDC opens the door for young designers to develop stronger relationships, communication skills, confidence, and leadership in the early stages of their careers.
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