AIA Virginia Resources for Unlicensed Professionals

As an emerging professional architect, are you feeling out of the loop? Like you might be missing something? Too many things to do, and not sure where to start? Are you an architecture student wondering how to make connections for jobs, put together your portfolio, or simply sign up for licensure hours? Are you trying to take the next step in your career, but could use some help?

Michael Spory, Associate AIA

Virginia is a great place to be a young designer—full of diverse and growing communities, dynamic designers, dramatic landscapes, surprising little towns, and vibrant urban places. As an emerging designer who found my footing in Charlottesville’s design community, I have learned so much from the talents and resources of architects across the commonwealth, and I hope Virginia continues to be a place where designers can flourish in their firms, start their own successful practices, and do the compelling work that serves our communities and our environment.

As the AIA Virginia associate director, I represent all unlicensed associates on AIA Virginia’s Board of Directors, advocating for the unique statewide and local needs of Virginia’s students and young professionals, and serving as a connector for initiatives and people in each of our five regions. I began my two-year term on the AIA VA board in January, strategizing about how to best connect emerging professionals with the right people, skills, and resources they need to take the next step in their careers. In my day job, I am a designer for VMDO Architects, focusing on educational and community projects.

This snack-sized monthly newsletter is intended to connect you, as an unlicensed architectural professional in Virginia, with the right resources and the right people to take that next step in your career. From ARE test study guides to job postings, procedures for the Emerging Leaders in Architecture (ELA) Program (you should apply!) and advice on salary negotiation to tips from colleagues about how to lead a meeting, or even just finding the nearest architecture happy hour in your city—we at AIA Virginia are here to help bridge that gap. I want to help you find what you need next to grow, and many of those resources are right under our noses.

And if that one thing you need doesn’t seem to exist yet—let’s talk about getting it started together. Sometimes big ideas get started with the brave-but-simple question: “Can you help me?”

In the meantime, let’s get started. Please reach out at any time to me, with requests both big and small, and we will connect you to local EPs near you. We are here to serve you.

In social distancing solidarity,

Michael Spory, Associate AIA

Just a Few Fun Things to Click On

Because You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know: Read your monthly newsletter from AIA Virginia. Want to read back issues? Click here.

Someone You Should Know: Michael Hammon, AIA is the NCARB Licensing Advisor for Virginia. He knows all things NCARB and is appointed by AIA Virginia to help you. Reach out to him at

Someone Else You Should Know: Corey Clayborne is the Executive Director of AIA Virginia, a recently awarded AIA Fellow (one of the youngest ever and the first ELA alum!), a dynamic leader and advocate for the profession, and an all-around great guy.

Something You Might Need: AIA National is offering their ARE prep course ArchiPrep FOR FREE for associate members until August 31. This is a steal, so you definitely should use it if you are taking your ARE exams like I am.

Something That’s Different Than Before: NCARB’s Youtube channel is surprisingly helpful, and they recently recorded a video session with Covid-related updates to the ARE registration and exam procedure. Super helpful if you’re not sure how your testing experience may be affected by a global pandemic.

Something to Brag About: AIA Virginia just successfully lobbied for the first ever statute of limitations for certain state projects. For those of us whose Professional Practice memories are a little hazy, this keeps us from getting sued into eternity. Or something like that. But it’s a big deal.

Something to Bookmark: For those on the job hunt, take a look at the job board on the AIA Virginia website — with employment opportunities all across Virginia.

Something Inspiring: Foster + Partners releasing templates for DIY paper architecture.