Hello fellow planning students and young planning professionals! I’m Matt, an APA member and protege of my mentor, Kurt Christiansen, FAICP.
I am writing from a young professional’s perspective to give advice that I hope will help you as the APA launches its AICP Candidate Pilot Program. It is pretty fantastic that we young planners will have the opportunity to take this big step toward AICP certification earlier than ever before.
We do still have to obtain the years of experience (3 years for undergraduates or 2 years for graduate students), but we can take the exam first! And, after passing the AICP Certification Exam, we can use the designation “AICP Candidate” while we obtain that professional experience, which will help us differentiate ourselves to potential employers.
One of the exciting elements of the program is the option to be matched with a mentor. I was matched with my mentor through APA’s Mentor Match Program, and it has worked out fantastically for me and several of my classmates. I bet it can for you, too!
Here are some tips for making the most of the mentoring opportunity available to us through the AICP Candidate Pilot Program:
- Break the ice. Introduce yourself, and get to “brass tacks” as soon as you feel comfortable. Talk about what your goals are, what you want out of school and that you are considering taking the AICP exam early through APA’s AICP Candidate Pilot Program.
- Ask about your mentor’s interests. Be as general or specific as you like. Ask about such things as where they started out in the planning world, how their perspective has changed over the course of their career and how they view the AICP credential.
Sidenote: All mentors associated with the program are AICP certified, so they will know their stuff and the ins and outs of the Exam.
- Maintain contact with your mentor. Don’t let several weeks or months go by without at least touching base. You never know how you both can benefit one another and help each other navigate the waters of professional planning! Only good can come from open and honest communication.
The AICP Candidate Pilot Program is a great opportunity for us students and recent graduates to get a head start on the AICP certification.
Still not sure? Another reason to consider taking the AICP exam early is that, like me, you are either a student or a recent grad and chock full of planning theory and history. Maybe you’ve already gained some experience through internships or part or full-time work. With this background, you could be already prepared for most of the AICP exam!
Take advantage of this opportunity to jump start your career and potentially develop a lasting professional relationship with a mentor. I encourage you to enroll on November 1 for the AICP Candidate Pilot Program and to make the most out of the Program by signing up for a mentor.
Top image: A protege meets with her mentor during the NPC16 Mentor Match program. Photo by Joe Szurszewski.
About the Author
Matthew Nahrstedt is an environmental planner and designer with the Institute for Building Technology and Safety.