Sink or Swim–in class, not on the project

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Helee Hillman
United States
Energy and Sustainability Services

My first assignment as a consultant on a LEED EB project was for a prestigious client, and only a few short weeks from the day I passed my LEED NC exam and earned my AP letters. To say the learning curve was steep is an understatement. At the time, without a fully-developed formal network of resources within the firm to guide me, I had only the strong desire to perform for my client coupled with the fear of failure to sustain me.   

Today, there are so many more experienced LEED APs with actual project experience to go around, so neophytes can work with someone more knowledgeable on their first project. Yet, there’s nothing like the deep end of the pool for finding the best swimmers.

I recently co-facilitated an internal class of 30 newly minted APs eager for their first assignments. Day One of the training started with a “being thrown to the sharks” exercise, much like what I had experienced in real life a few years before.  Armed with just a manual and a mandate to “certify this building,” our perplexed groups were left to sink or swim until we fished them out and kicked off the real training: an intensive two-day course of hands-on LEED EB/CI exercises, and face time with SMEs.  Most of our graduates will still have experienced colleagues in their respective offices to guide them as they conduct their first feasibility assessments or work on certification projects, but in the unlikely event of a water landing, at least they can fall back on their training as well as a firm full of colleagues to stay afloat.

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