The word “intern” usually brings to mind the image of a young kid, maybe still in college or just out, running around an office doing odd jobs, delivering coffee and working for very little to no money.

Though this is just a simple stereotype, one can understand why someone 10 or 20 years into their career would balk at the idea of being called an intern.  This seems to be one of the reasons behind NCARB’s recent announcement of rebranding IDP into AXP later this year.  The goal is to retire the word “intern” from the name to better reflect what unlicensed professionals currently working through their exams actually do in the real world.

IDP currently stands for “Intern Development Program”, which seems fine for the younger generation, but can be a tough pill to swallow for the more seasoned folks in the field.  AXP will stand for “Architectural Experience Program” with the intention to appeal to a larger group of exam candidates.  There is a bit of irony in that while going through school most of us were taught the penalties behind using the title of “architect” before you are officially licensed.  Since AXP won’t be part of your job title though, there are likely no issues with that aspect of the name change.  Also, states will still reserve the right to call exam candidates by other terms, including “intern”, until a license is achieved.

Like most people in this industry, I was once an intern too.  Both in the sense of working part time during school at a firm to gain experience, and as an official “intern” while completing IDP.  I can say with confidence that I never had to fetch anyone a cup of coffee nor did I ever work for free (and you shouldn’t either), I did take my title as intern very seriously as I saw it as a learning and growth opportunity.  I was eager and motivated to take on any small task that came my way, and as an intern you’ll likely do a lot of small tasks.  Maybe it’s plotting sets or picking up redlines or cutting and pasting color chips for a design presentation.  Whatever it may be, make it your own and seize the opportunity to gain some knowledge while at the same time knocking out those experience area requirements.

As for those of you who have been in this industry for a while, having to complete this program is just one of the obstacles you’ll have to overcome on the road to licensure.  For you moving through the program will be less about learning new things and more about time management and tracking your hours.  On the bright side, you’ll likely be able to complete the program fairly quickly since you will likely be doing many of the required experience area tasks on a daily basis.

So whether you are a new passenger on this wild ride to registration or you’ve been on board for a while, getting through the soon-to-be renamed IDP/AXP requirement is just another step on your journey.

For more information on the name change, check out this article on NCARB’s website: