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Four Surprising Ways Becoming an SDA Fellow Benefits Member Careers

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Updated: Thursday, October 8, 2020

The application period for SDA Fellows is now open and ends October 31.  We recently interviewed our Fellows about the process and the designation. In Part 1, our Fellows identified four different ways the FSDA designation advanced their careers and life path.  

Fellowship provides a path forward. With many SDA members comprising the entirety of the firm's back office, or part of a small team, it can often feel like a dead end.   SDA Fellow Deborah Gill, noted that for those members, Fellowship provides a path forward. “Firms are small; they’ve reached the highest position attainable; it’s easy to just stay in the same position,” says Gill. “Following the path to Fellow gives senior members motivation and inspiration to take on a new challenge.” Plus, there’s the added mystique, “personally, even though I’m at the end of my career, I believe it adds a ‘je ne sais quoi’ to my signature as a consultant.”

Fellow gives credibility and recognition. Operating in support roles, SDA members often struggle to be seen as the critical team members they are. As Fellow Liz Harris notes, “the concept of “Fellow” or fellowship status is well known and well regarded in the A/E/C industry. Industry insiders immediately “get” that being a Fellow signifies a special recognition of ability, achievement, and leadership. It’s a designation that opens doors and reduces barriers”

Debra Ellis agrees, “One member in my firm that did not recognize all my prior accomplishments (National President, CDFA, being on the State Licensing Board) but when I became a Fellow, he was very impressed and began to see me in a new light.”

Sabrina Heard noted that while FSDA is a professional milestone in SDA, “it is a bigger status symbol in our community. It tells everyone that we know what we are talking about.” 

Fellow allows you to reflect upon your professional growth. It’s no secret that SDA members are busier than ever, responding to new and never before known business challenges. With all that time rowing the boat, there’s often little left for navigating and taking in the view. “While completing the application, I was able to see my professional accomplishments,” said Debra Ellis. “It gives you the view to see you still have room for growth in your career.”  

Harris added “You get a rare chance to see a snapshot of your life, work, and volunteer journey. That photo may bring you satisfaction and joy, helping you see and articulate just how far you’ve come. It may even reflect a small detail upon which you’d like to improve. Either way, the exercise will help you understand your progress, articulate your value, and focus on opportunities for improvement.

Fellow offers a way to stay involved and give back. Giving back and staying engaged as you mature along your work-life journey, is shown to be beneficial to you and the larger community.  “I think it’s important to share your wealth of knowledge with members and the industry. It’s fulfilling to play a role to advance the next generation of leaders in our firms and organization,” said Stephanie Kirschner.

Stay tuned! In Part 2, we’ll share how to supercharge your career path with the power of the FSDA application. And, you don’t need to be ready to apply to reap the benefits.

Ready or not, download the application today and see what is needed to advance your career.  Learn more here.


Special thanks to Judy Beebe, FSDA, for conducting the survey and to all of our Fellows for their responses to make this two-part series possible. 

Tags:  Career Path  SDA Fellow  SDA National 

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