At the 2002 National Internship Summit convened in October 2002 at the University of Oklahoma, interns summarized their concerns in a paper “What Interns Need.”

Despite the forces of globalization, history and culture still tend to influence professional relationships. Here in Hawai’i, mentoring is especially appropriate where students’ predominantly Asia Pacific cultures are rooted in the concept of “respect for elders.” Conversely, the Japanese commitment “Kodomo no tame ni” (for the sake of the children) is a common regional trait. This mutual respect premise is key to the success of the mentoring program at the University of Hawai’i School of Architecture (SoA)
The SoA is privileged to have respected architects from leading firms in the United States. and the Asia Pacific region as Practicum Faculty. Their responsibility is to welcome students into their firms for a semester to mentor and teach them about Asia Pacific practice leadership. The students’ responsibility is to gain critical thinking, training, and leadership skills in a professional setting.

At the 2002 National Internship Summit convened in October 2002 at the University of Oklahoma, interns summarized their concerns in a paper “What Interns Need.”

Five mentoring Practicum Studio attributes are listed with Intern Needs from the Internship Summit, followed by how the Practicum Studio addresses those needs, including:
a) What students need b) how principal architects can be more effective role models, c) and how the School of Architecture (SoA) supports student need.

1. Mutual Respect: “Respect our current and potential contribution as the future of the profession”

Students are awed by the opportunity to work with a recognized firm and architect. They need reassurance they are valued and worthy of the resources provided.

Principal Architects need to convey their teaching/mentoring enthusiasm to the entire firm and establish programs that encourage mentoring of young architects. Practicum Faculty are highly motivated mentors and catalysts for others to embrace leadership mentoring.

SoA requires students to develop an area of interest and skill that matches resources/expertise of Practicum Faculty so students can contribute academic knowledge. Example: Student knowledge of leading edge software such as EcoTect, assists firms in exploring sustainable architecture.

2. Commitment: “The firm needs to make commitments to the interns’ needs and live up to them”

Students need to complete the Practicum Studio as a total semester commitment.

Principal Architect commitment to mentoring is one of many, possibly the least important in value for his/her practice. The most successful mentors are those who accept their responsibilities as an integral part of their jobs rather than as a peripheral task. The depth of commitment of the Practicum Faculty and Unit Mentors has been astounding and reinforced by students who enthusiastically complete their tasks beyond Practicum Studio requirements.

SoA requires signed agreements from students and Practicum Faculty to fulfill their obligations and coordinates activities to assure compliance.

3. Measurable Activities and Goals “Measurable opportunities to earn respect”

Students need to learn to articulate goals and measure progress.

Principal Architects need to learn how to teach, demand progress within a clear work plan and specific mutually agreed upon criteria that are regularly evaluated. Successful Practicum participants set regular meeting times that are flexible enough to allow schedule adjustments that accommodate practice demands of the architects without compromising the student’s learning progress.

SoA provides workshops and The Practicum Studio Guide for students and Practicum Faculty, which outline the training, learning, and evaluation requirements for the semester. Student Evaluations measure NAAB requirements met, training and assignment quality, as well as professional attitudes and attributes. Practicum Faculty and Firm Evaluations measure the quality of training, learning and leadership opportunities offered.

4. Leadership Learning Opportunities “Firms should encourage involvement in leadership”

Students: Inclusion in client, management, and leadership meetings and being entrusted with confidential information for research support heightens students’ sense of responsibility and privilege. They appreciate architects who allow such opportunities.

Principal Architects need to entrust students with assignments and information that challenge critical thinking and professional ethics. They should teach and demand organization; competent, timely assignment completion; preparedness for meetings including agenda preparation, and subsequent plan of action. They should provide regular mentoring meetings with no interruptions, including phone calls.

SoA mandates leadership learning by requiring fulfillment of assignments related to training, a semester long research project, and a semester long professional community service activity.

5. Mentoring Values: “Principals let me spend time with you… when appropriate, let me mentor YOU”

Students need training applicable to IDP training requirements. They also need to establish networking opportunities, insight into subsequent courses, and transition from academy to profession. The Practicum Studio research and community service components provide these opportunities. Time management is crucial.

Principal Architects can learn from students by encouraging creative thinking to resolve issues from a fresh viewpoint. Practicum Faculty who have taken time to get to know students say they have learned much. “International students who shared their professional traditions taught me that I know very little about the cultures for which we have been designing facilities.” Firms also gain from the student research, community service, and the final candid summation of their training/experience at the firm if Practicum Faculty relates the work to their practice.

SoA requires and monitors student communication of their needs by timely evaluation of themselves and their mentors. Attention to this requirement reinforces each student’s sense of worth as an equal participant.
The Practicum Studio has exhibited many positives and is constantly being adjusted to accommodate student and Practicum Faculty needs. The University of Hawai‘i School of Architecture is grateful to the architects, firms, and students who make our Practicum Studio possible.