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SDA Fellowship - Path to Career Success

Posted By Stephanie Kirschner, FSDA, Thursday, March 5, 2020
Updated: Monday, March 16, 2020

SDA’s Fellows Program recognizes the value of a member’s contributions to SDA, peer organizations, and the A/E/C community in the area of excellence in design firm management.

Wow!! Fellowship is the highest recognition SDA offers, and the number of Fellows is growing each year. So why pursue Fellowship, and how will it benefit your personal and professional growth?

The first requirement is 10 years of experience as a manager or administrator in the A/E/C industries, of which seven have been as an active member of SDA. The designation of CDFA for at least five years is also required. So it doesn’t come easily or quickly!!

Making Fellowship a goal, however, will propel you forward in your personal and professional growth. Here are things to start working on:

Significant Contribution to SDA. By continuing to be involved with SDA in a leadership position at the chapter and national levels, you will expose yourself to others who can inspire you to grow, to contribute, and to expand beyond your comfort zone. And in turn, you will add value to SDA and its membership through speaking, committee service, and introducing other A/E/C industry professionals to the benefits of SDA.

Contributions to Practice Management in the A/E/C Industries. Outside of SDA, there is so much you can do to improve this crazy industry we care about so much. We each find ourselves unexpectedly an expert on some topic that we have mastered or challenge we have conquered. How can you share this knowledge and not keep your light under a bushel? Local AIA chapters are always looking for seminar speakers; university students need to know more about the actual practice beyond their technical skills (how many architects have told you they “slept through Pro Practice?”). Can you advise your firm’s AXP®, EIT, or LSIT program? Can you serve in other building industry-associated boards or organizations? By so doing, you will increase your own knowledge while at the same time passively marketing your own firm.

Contributions as a Role Model. Outside of your own firm, how can you mentor individuals or organizations as an advisor, trainer, mentor, or participant in public/community service? This includes Canstruction®, where you can have a huge impact beyond the design community. Again, every time you expand your horizons, you are growing personally, you are representing your firm, you are expanding your network, and you are increasing your influence.

So get started now! Chart your course to Fellowship, and you will simultaneously gain tremendous personal growth, demonstrate your value to your firm, and elevate the design community.

You never achieve a goal without a deadline, so start checking off what you’ve already achieved towards your Fellowship goal, and what still needs to be done.

Have a look at the Fellows Program Guidelines and the Fellows Application and start your path to career success. What steps can you take to start your career development with an eye toward becoming a Fellow? Share ideas in the comment box below.




Betsy Nickless, FSDA is a member of the first SDA Class of Fellows (2018).

She currently serves as the SDA National Bylaws Committee Chair.


Tags:  SDA  SDA Fellow  Society for Design Administration 

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