While I am not new to the A/E/C profession, I am still relatively new to SDA and its many beneficial offerings to our local professional community. Being a natural joiner, from year one, I delved wholeheartedly into participating and eventually chairing many of the programs our chapter offers. Through those experiences, I gained a special appreciation and pride for the enthusiasm and comradery of our chapter. This year being my first time on the board, I decided that I wanted to gain more insight of SDA and its purpose. I felt EDSyposium would give me that perspective of the association, both from the national lens as well as through other chapters.
As a representative of AIA San Antonio, I wanted to be aware of not just the needs of the architect, but also of their staff, whose efforts toward success in the industry are of equal value. I felt that attending this conference would help me to gain a deeper appreciation of those needs… and it did. Understanding the needs of our professional and affiliate membership when it comes to maintaining licensure to running a firm, from contracts to risk management, as well as IT security concerns, just to name a few. I learned more than I thought I would. Not just about better office practices, but personal and professional growth. My intent is to bring back what I learned to our AIA San Antonio membership.
Of all the sessions, my favorite was Resiliency in the Real World by Beth Hanishewski, a motivational speaker who focuses on paths to success through relationships. Beth’s presentation contained anecdotal evaluations of ourselves as a means of understanding the whole and how we cope and/or do not cope in the real world. Being able to understand how to take a step back and really understand the complexities of our individual selves and how that comprises the whole is an important tool. I found her presentation beneficial because it was the most insightful both on a personal and professional level. To be armed with a deeper understanding of oneself is a powerful tool for any person, in any profession, on any given day. For the conference to include a session of such prevalence in the landscape of life in general was fantastic.
I enjoyed the tremendously beautiful city of Spokane, Washington, of which I knew nothing about. It’s always exciting to visit a city you have never been to before, but the added bonus was to visit it with colleagues that you can call friends. All of us being from the same industry added to the experience in that we all had a deep appreciation for the built environment, the beauty of place-making and a city’s vision for a visitor’s experience. The landscape architect’s presentation on Riverfront Park, followed by the tour was, by far, the best part. Seeing the vision of the park through his eyes and understanding the intent changed how you viewed the park as you walked through it with him. It gave you a deeper appreciation for it and built anticipation to see it again when it is finished. But it is not just the experience of the conference in a new city, it’s the planning and comradery that is developed in the process. Attending EDSymposium was a bonding experience with my fellow SDAers.
Why does anyone want to go to conference anyway? Is it for professional growth or acknowledgement? Is it to develop new skill sets or to dive into new technologies, software or better business practices? Perhaps, it’s an exercise in team building or self-motivational strategies to remind you why you chose your career? Or maybe, it’s just an opportunity to break away from the day to day routine, jet off to another city and spend time with a group of like-minded individuals of the same professional prowess to learn, commune, and grow as a professional. I say… it’s all of the above!
Everyone should attend EDSymposium… as often as possible! It is not just an experience that will benefit the firm you work for or benefit your SDA chapter for you having gone. It’s an experience that will benefit you. Yes, you’ll learn things to help be a better employee—to be even more of an asset to your employer. You’ll meet other SDAers, both national and local board members, and learn from the presenters AND other SDA chapters things that you can bring back to your chapter. But more importantly, you’ll benefit from the overall experience. Your purpose for your chapter will become clearer, and what you bring back to your employer will increase your value to them. And the knowledge that you have gained… THAT is why everyone should consider going to EDSymposium every year! I am grateful that I was fortunate to have won a Past President’s Council scholarship to help pay for me to go this year. I recommend that everyone throw their hat into that ring when the opportunity comes around next year, and the year after that. The work to submit is not much more than an evening of writing and the benefits far outweigh that work. I sincerely hope that right now, a new SDAer is reading this and is inspired to apply for the PPC grant next year. Like me, you won’t regret it and I hope to meet you at EDS20!
Belinda Sanchez is the 2019 Recipient of the PPC First Time Attendee-Registration Only Grant.
She is a member of the SDA San Antonio Chapter