SDA e-Wire
Blog Home All Blogs
Welcome to our new SDA Blog which we've called the e-Wire. We hope you enjoy the insights and information that will be shared here by our authors. Be sure to leave a comment and share with others.


Search all posts for:   


Top tags: SDA  Society for Design Administration  New Members  President's Message  Word Nerd  SDA National  EDS19  Leadership  EDS18  PPC Grant  SDA Fellow  Career Path  EDS17  Emergency Planning  Networking  Organization  Resolutions  To Do List  Welcome  A/E/C Contracts  A/E/C Industry  Accounting  AEC  Annual Business Meeting  Belayer  Berkley Design Professionals  Better Person  Better Writer  blockchain technology  Boost Visibility 

Five Road Markers on the Superhighway of Advancing Your Career Path using the FSDA Application

Posted By Administration, 6 hours ago
Updated: 6 hours ago


The application period for SDA Fellows is now open and ends October 31. Earlier in the month we shared the results of interviews with our fellows and the four surprising benefits of earning the FSDA.

But the surprises didn’t stop there. Again and again, Fellows identified the FSDA application as a road map not only to Fellowship, but to career advancement and personal satisfaction. And, most notably, you don’t need to be ready to apply to become a Fellow to reap the benefits immediately. It’s an easy path to follow for career growth and professional development today.



Road Marker #1 - Fill in the Gaps to Advance at Work

It could be that you don’t meet all of the Fellows criteria right now, but have a personal goal of one day achieving Fellow status. Sarah Wallace says “consider using the application to augment your annual review and ask for assistance from firm leaders to help achieve any of the missing areas.”  It could be something like getting involved in your local SDA, AIA or other AEC industry professional organizations or making a presentation at one of their monthly programs. “Doing this will not only benefit your growth and achievement, but will also help your firm through increased marketing and networking exposure,” says Wallace.  In addition, these activities will help you stand out in your firm.

Road Marker #2 -  Self Motivation

Accomplishing the goal of becoming a Fellow requires self motivation. “The mere act of identifying a goal and mastering your motivation, meaning you identify the outcomes you want, break them down into realistic accomplishments for today and tomorrow, and the next day, and see your plan through is a skill that every person should strive to acquire”, states Deborah Gill. Setting and achieving goals can be applied to many parts of your life, especially your career path. “Right now, for example, everyone is in a virtual world with so many more distractions vying for their time and energy that they can feel overwhelmed,” Gill notes. “If you can develop the path to Fellow for yourself – motivation, goals, tasks – this skillset can be applied to any aspect of your career.”

Road Marker #3 - Visibility in the Office and in the A/E/C Profession

SDA members are knowledgeable in many subject areas. Now is the time to become known as the subject matter expert in your firm.  “Visibility is key, so speaking and writing allows you to gain visibility and credibility, and thus, grow in your career,” said Gill.

It could be that you had to do a lot of research for some effort in your firm. Take the next step and write an article or white paper with an executive summary and submit it to SDA for publication. Or, make a presentation on the topic to your executive team and consider doing the same for your chapter or during a national roundtable discussion. These are great next steps that increase your personal knowledge, advance your firm, and keep you moving toward the ultimate goal of becoming a Fellow. As a result, you will see your value rise in your firm.

Becoming a Fellow is a great way to recognize knowledgeable and veteran members “for their continued and sustained involvement in SDA and contribution to the industry” said Betsy Nickless.  “Once we’ve been through the full cycle of chapter leadership and national leadership, it’s an opportunity to continue to further the organization.” 

The visibility earned with FSDA extends beyond SDA and your firm. Said Debra Ellis “I think that the word Fellow seems to hold a higher “prestige” in the A/E world and that could help to elevate your career.”  

Road Marker #4 - Roads Less Traveled are Terrific Career Paths

Too often we hear from SDA members claiming to be “just” an administrator or “just” (insert your personal “just” statement here). Truth is, now more than ever, administrators are primed to rule the A/E/C world. Need proof? “Just” listen to Simon Goodhead’s EDConnect20 presentation “Why Administrators Just Might Rule the World”. 

But where to begin? Start with the FSDA application. The Fellowship criteria can be an impactful first step on a path that you might not have considered taking, but one that will lead you to a brighter, more satisfying, secure and higher paid future.  Judy Beebe shared “I think the Fellow criteria alone can set you on a career path that you might not have taken to begin with. I think if you’re just starting out in the A/E/C industry, you can use the criteria as additional goals to meet, while you’re learning and gaining more experience on the job.”

Road Marker #5 - A Sense of Accomplishment

When you reach a big goal that you have set out to accomplish, there is a tremendous, earned sense of pride. “I think SDA members will find the Fellowship application process to be the next natural progression on their personal and professional development journey,” said Beebe. “The initial step of becoming a CDFA shows you know and understand the industry’s practices; becoming a Fellow shows you’ve put yourself out there to also share your knowledge and skills with others outside of your firm and outside of your SDA chapter.” Beebe continued, “for me, becoming a Fellow was another accomplishment in my career – one that felt right.”

On the path of life or the career path “it’s never too late to be who you might have been.” (George Eliot) The Fellows of SDA invite you to come along in what could be the road trip of your career life. Just follow the signs. Here’s your first stop. Learn more here.



Tags:  Career Path  SDA Fellow  SDA National 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

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 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Shop at Amazon and Help SDA

Just click the Amazon banner image or use this link: SDA on Amazon and you'll help SDA at no cost to you.

SDA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

7014 Old US Highway 68
Georgetown, OH 45121

(M-TH 9am -4pm Eastern)