The IIDA student competitions are educational experiences…but for whom? In the several years I have been involved in the fascinating process of judging student charrette and portfolio competitions, I’m the lucky beneficiary of free education. In the same way that students stand on our shoulders as they emerge into the professional world, we in turn stand on theirs. By immersing into the student experience, we glimpse something different, we are exposed to new ideas, we see new processes, we learn where we are going, like it or not. And make no mistake, it’s a two-way street, we see breath-taking blunders and amazing head-slappers, both by the students and their mentors. But each of those is a teachable moment, a chance to learn what to avoid, or how to help steer a proper course. The other great dividend is the chance that the job applicant you are about to interview is someone with whose work you are already familiar, and whose presentation in the heat of battle you have already witnessed. What a unique and enviable advantage. Students, were you aware when the audition process actually started? Now you know. Thank you, IIDA, for my continuing education. Couldn’t have done it without you.

Scott Johnson, IIDA, IALD, CID, LEED®AP
Wolcott Architecture | Interiors