IDP: 6 Tips to GET it DONE

Remember when you first graduated, you looked at the 5600 IDP hours and you thought to yourself how am I ever going to get through this? 5600 hours = 700 days = roughly 2 years if you work everyday. But for most people, it usually takes 3 to 4 years because: first, you don't work every single day; second, you don't always get to work on the required categories. For me, it took about 3 years. When I got the email from NCARB that I had finished my IDP, it was one of the most exciting moments in my life. I want to share with you some tips that I have learned in completing my IDP, and some helpful links at the end of the article to help you navigate through this journey.

1. You gotta ask for it

Some hours just like to play hard to get, like Construction Administration/Observation, General Project Management or even Business Operations. The only thing you can do is ask for it.

During this past annual review, I took the time to let my supervisor know that I needed my CA experience. Not only do I need it for my IDP but I don't feel competent without the experience on a job site. The next day, they put me on a project that has a lot of construction going on. Since then I have been stamping those submittals, going on job site, drinking coffee with contractors while punch listing. A couple months later, I am done with my IDP hours!

FACT: Make it a priority to meet with your supervisor to review your IDP progress every couple months. Not everyone has time, so it's your job to bring it to their attention whenever it's needed.


Don't just ask for it - TAKE CONTROL OF IT.

If you are doing a zoning analysis, ask if you can go on a site visit. If you are doing a sketch for a change order, ask if you can go on site to see the problem. If you are doing drawings for a presentation, ask if you can go to the client meeting. Your employer can provide you with opportunities to gain the experience, but it's your responsibility to get as much out of it as possible. This way you can not only get your IDP done faster, but it will foster your career in becoming a more well-rounded architect.

3. Find a firm that fulfills it

If your firm is not providing you with the necessary experience, you need to find one that will. We don't have many first few years to go through. If you don't get it now, when would you get it?

For a very long time, I have finished all my IDP hours except for CA. But even after I expressed my concern to my previous firm, I was still always sitting at my desk pushing out pretty renderings or cranking on those CDs. I knew that it would probably take them a year or two to staff me for a construction administration role. So I decided it was about time to move on and find a firm that could fulfill my IDP. I am not saying we should just quit our jobs as soon as we don't get what we want. You should definitely talk to your supervisor a couple times before looking for alternative options.

4. go volunteer

If you don't have any Leadership and Services hours, just go volunteer! You don't need me to tell me where you can go volunteer.

I have seen many intern architects who have finished all their hours except for Leadership and Services. Most of them say they don't have the time to volunteer, but it really doesn't take that long. I did ACE to fulfill the 80 hours requirement in a semester. Talk to your colleagues first and see if there are any volunteer groups in the firm. All you need is a couple hours a week and do it for a couple weeks then you are done!

FACT: Leadership and Services hours are submitted separately as a supplemental experience. If it's done within your firm, you could ask your supervisor to approve it or whoever is the head of the voluntary service.

5. don't forget to log your hours

To effectively complete your IDP, you should keep a log of your hours everyday. Everyone might do it differently, so here is my system:

  1. At the end of a work day, I write down all my hours on a sketch book.
  2. After 8 weeks, I input it in the IDP Experience Hour Workbook from NCARB.
  3. 3 months later, I submit the hours in bulk and have my supervisor approve it.
  4. If he forgets to approve it (it always happens), I would remind him a couple weeks later.

Our time sheet also has a system that lets us put in the IDP categories for our hours, but it's just more flexible to do it on my own.

FACT: Submit your hours as regularly as possible. You will lose 50% of your hours if you wait past 8 months.

6. Start as early as possible

Don't wait until your full-time job to start submitting your hours. You can record hours as soon as you start an internship in school.

I started recording my hours when I had my first internship in school, and have been keeping an active record ever since. I would also record any continuing education hours if I go to a Lunch and Learn or lectures at the AIA. There are also many ways to earn IDP hours other than working in an architectural firm. For example, the Emerging Professional's Companion lets you earn hours by working with a mentor on the activities (it could be an architect you know, a professor or supervisor).  

FACT: Keeping an NCARB record active saves you money. NCARB has an article on their website that serves its justice.

Here are links related to IDP that you might find helpful:

If you have any questions about IDP or suggestions for other interns, feel free to leave a comment and let us know!

Thanks for reading!

Architectural and graphic designer based in NYC. I design buildings and write about it. My interests revolve around urban architecture, professional development, arts and graphics.

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Aspiring architect and graphic designer. I design buildings and write about it. My interests revolve around urban architecture, professional development, arts and graphics.


Joann Lui

Aspiring architect and graphic designer. I design buildings and write about it. My interests revolve around urban architecture, professional development, arts and graphics.

YAF: Personal Branding 101

Recently, I have the pleasure to contribute to YAF Connection - the official e-magazine for young architects produced by the Young Architects Forum (YAF). If you haven't heard about YAF, you should check them out! They provide great resources for intern architects and recently licensed architects. YAF Connection is issued bimonthly, and they cover any issues we might encounter from licensing, to trends in architecture, to office culture.

For this issue, I continued the discussion on personal branding from my previous blog post - INTERN 101: 6 KEYS TO BUILDING YOUR BRAND. This time I focused on how to use personal branding as different tools to forward your career.

Here is a snapshot of my article: 

You can read the whole article and check out the rest of the magazine here:


Just an Intern has been around for 3 years now, and I really appreciate all the support that you have all given me. If you have any suggestions for new topics, you are always welcome to drop a comment or email!

Thanks for reading!

Aspiring architect and graphic designer. I design buildings and write about it. My interests revolve around urban architecture, professional development, arts and graphics.

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