In the last few days, we have experienced the joyous shift of daylight savings, balancing the unfortunate loss of an hour of sleep with the revelation of sunsets that sneak off later and later. The first day after the spring ahead is something I look forward to every year, where we can actually see clearly the transition from one thing to the next. Our winter is ending, and the light lingers later in the sweetening air, and I feel that spring is close at hand.

Michael Spory, Assoc. AIA

Despite the seeming sameness of a work-from-home, socially distanced life, we have all had lots of transitions this past year. New technology, new patterns of communication, new expectations for our time, new challenges to keep our minds engaged, and our firm billings high enough, among many. We have lived through unbelievable upheaval, and are about to face it again. With the trickling vaccinations comes the onset of another transition for architects, as we adjust once again to hybridized workplaces, reformulated daily practices, and a profession that will be finding a new “normal.” Like the gradual lightning that flips suddenly at daylight savings day, we will emerge into a new world–a world that we must shape for the better.

For many young professionals, our transitions might be taking on new responsibilities after our expertise gained in blending digital and physical management techniques, and developing and documenting projects with stakeholders whom you might never meet in person. It might be figuring out what a hybrid workplace looks like. It might be in transitioning in a new title as “Licensed Architect” (shoutout to all those taking their AREs now) or realizing important it is to give back from good mentorship and support aht we’ve received. For students, the transition might be gained skills in virtual networking, digital presenting, grassroots organizing tactics outside of offering free pizza–skills that firms need. For new moms and dads, it might be transitioning back to a new balance of childcare and professional life once again–one hopefully rooted in better firm policies that advocate for equal opportunities for those who take of loved ones and those who do not.

Transitions are hard. These new steps often challenge us to face that fact that we are inadequate–that we don’t know a great deal–and that we are entering new, unknown territory, where success is not guaranteed. But transitions also offer a break from old habit, from leftover patterns that need rejiggering, and an opportunity to overhaul complacent systems. Approaching this new threshold is like coming up to a mountain ridgeline in the fog. As the horizon view clears before and behind us, we feel the anticipation of returning to the good things and grief and confusion as we sort through the things we lost. Students will miss milestones as they celebrate the arrival of first jobs (which will happen), and younger staff will miss promotions and raises, even as we forged new knowledge in the crucible of socially distanced professional necessity. Some may thrive in the coming phases of lingering uncertainty, and for others, it may tempt us to retreat into the security of what we already know.

As I approach this upcoming Spring Ahead Sunday with certain excitement (my household is preparing lots of pie, as daylight savings joyfully dovetails with Pi Day this year–the smallest of delights) at the return of sunny evenings, I look ahead to the horizon, and see the many many opportunities for young designers glistening in the lifting fog. I hope you see them too. I hope you reach for them with all your might–and know that we are here to support your reach.

In solidarity and action,
Michael Spory, Associate AIA