COVID-19 – FAQs for Supervising Architects, Intern Architects, Student Associates, and Mentors

Q: I’m an Intern Architect and I’m worried about not being able to pay my fees. Will my status lapse?

A: Because of the uncertainty and the potential for financial hardship resulting from COVID-19, it will be important to maintain communication with the OAA regarding any upcoming annual fees. Please contact the Office of the Registrar to discuss the available options. Should financial hardship be a concern to you, please refer to the OAA Financial Hardship Policy. For Student Associates, please ensure that your annual free enrollment is up to date. Contact officeoftheregistrar@oaa.on.ca if you have any questions.

Last updated: April 19, 2021

Q: Will applications for licence and enrollment in the IAP still be accepted during the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: Yes, applications will continue to be accepted.

OAA staff is working remotely and exercising best efforts to maintain regular processing times. However, due to the evolving situation and factors beyond control, processing times could be delayed. If you are currently awaiting an Experience Requirements Committee (ERC) interview, please note existing scheduled interviews are being suspended at this time while we investigate options.

The OAA is working to determine the best way forward. OAA staff will be in direct contact with candidates whose interview has been impacted—these individuals will receive priority placement at the next available opportunity. If you wish to apply for an Experience Requirements Committee Interview, please note that no new interviews are being scheduled during the COVID-19 pandemic. If a new application is received, the candidate will be put on a waiting list for the next available interview.

Last updated: June 9, 2020

Q: Is the ExAC being affected? What about the ARE?

A: The Committee for the ExAC (CExAC) is continuously working to determine next steps. For the latest news, Intern Architects are encouraged to visit www.exac.ca/en/accueil.html.

Candidates planning to take the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) should refer to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) website for the most recent updates at www.ncarb.org/press/coronavirus-update-ncarb-services.

Last updated: April 19, 2021

Q: I am now working remotely. How do I ensure I am appropriately supervised?

A: The purpose of the internship employment period is to ensure the Intern Architect or Student Associate is provided with sufficient hands-on architectural experience to meet the standards of practical skill and level of competence required to engage in the practice of architecture in Canada. The Intern Architect or Student Associate’s Supervising Architect is personally responsible for providing daily supervision and direction, facilitating the transition between architectural education and practice, and providing the practical architectural experience required for licensure. Similarly, the Intern Architect or Student Associate’s Mentor acts as an independent guide/advocate available for regular reviews of experience progress, as well as discussion of career objectives and broader issues related to the profession.
As an Intern Architect or Student Associate gains experience toward their IAP categories, the Supervising Architect provides detailed and frequent direction, supervision, and guidance on the work and learning experience of the Intern. Direction and supervision can occur either through in-person meetings that follow health guidelines as well as remote communication (e.g. via email, online markups, and videoconferencing), provided the Supervising Architect maintains oversight of the Intern Architect or Student Associate’s work, and has sufficient professional knowledge and familiarity with the IAP to determine the competency of their performance.
Within the context of remote work, some IAP experience categories present challenges, such as Category B Contract Administration. Many practices are determining new, safe ways to meet their contractual obligations during construction, be it remotely or in-person. The means and methods that practices have put in place for their contract administration activities may vary from project to project. What becomes critical with respect to IAP experience within each context is the ability to gauge if the Intern Architect or Student Associate is gaining a knowledge base and skills that are transferable to other projects and practice circumstances.
In-person interaction with the Supervising Architect is not necessarily required for the acquisition of IAP experience. What is required is clear, daily communication, meaningful collaboration, and exposure to best practices that build competency toward licensure. Whether experience is gained remotely or in-person, the OAA relies on the review comments from Supervising Architects and Mentors to assess whether the Intern Architect or Student Associate is gaining the architectural experience that meets the standards of practical skill and level of competence required by the IAP.
Practices, Supervising Architects, and Mentors should examine how to support Intern Architects and Student Associates while working in a virtual workplace. Open communication and frequent check-ins will be necessary to ensure all parties are aware of experience category progress and also areas that need more work. The following tips can help facilitate support while working remotely.

Schedule recurring virtual meetings
Consider creating a meeting schedule, both for the entire office and for specific project teams, but also one-on-ones with those reporting directly to you. These conversations become opportunities for both pointed questions and general small talk. It is important to keep in mind that it is best for all these meetings to be done through a video platform.

During virtual meetings with Intern Architects and Student Associates, take time to:
•         establish regular meeting schedules with each person you supervise;
•         discuss specific, recent examples of work situations or tasks, using virtual platform tools such as white boards or screen sharing;
•         talk about other architecture related topics;
•         review IAP progress and discuss tasks in the experience program to assess your candidate’s competency level; and
•         create a plan or strategy for professional development based on upcoming opportunities.

Encourage and maintain healthy work schedules
Working from home can easily blur the lines between personal and work lives, with everyone needing to find the right balance that suits their own needs and effectiveness. When having one-on-ones, be sure to make this an area for discussion. Support your Intern Architect or Student Associate’s search for balance, and then honour it once it has been established. Remember, everyone will have a different situation at home, so it is important to recognize scenarios, focus on what needs to happen, and plan out how to accomplish it, which may differ from the timeframes normally associated with traditional workdays.

Engage in online conversations
To facilitate the exchange of quick conversations there are a variety of virtual platforms to choose from that can be tailored to meet the privacy and/or accessibility requirements suitable for most firms.  Most of these applications can be a great way for Intern Architects and Student Associates to conveniently ask you (and the whole project team or office) questions as they arise, and vice versa. On many platforms, you can create channels for staying connected.

If your team has shifted to a virtual work environment, it may also be helpful for everyone to agree on shared expectations on how these communication tools should be utilized, including the type of messages and speed of responses. Lastly, never assume everyone has a shared understanding—it is always helpful to be explicit about the purpose and needs right from the start.

The Toronto Society of Architects (TSA) has prepared an excellent resource page on COVID-19 preparedness their website, which offers links to guides for working remotely, among other topics.

Last updated: January 14, 2021

Q: As a Supervising Architect, how do I supervise remotely?

 A: Ensure you are in contact with your Intern Architect or Student Associate on a daily basis and check in through email, phone, or video chats. During this period of uncertainty, it is important to keep in mind that employees may have additional questions, concerns, and worries.  (Refer to the other Q&A on this page for further details.)

Supervising Architects are encouraged to contact the OAA at officeoftheregistrar@oaa.on.ca should they have any questions about temporary adjustments in their workplace environment that affect their ability to monitor and supervise the work performed by an Intern Architect or Student Associate. You may wish to access this resource from CAMH, posted on the Toronto Society of Architects (TSA) website, providing succinct and clear tips on how to respond to employee anxiety about COVID-19.

Among the many benefits of employing Intern Architects and Student Associates is their ability to work independently under the direction of a Supervising Architect. As always, the OAA will continue to rely on Supervising Architects to support, direct, delegate, and review the work of their Intern Architect or Student Associate. The review comments and experience attestation by Supervising Architects are a vital component of the IAP, and the OAA relies on this commitment to ensure those enrolled in the IAP are gaining the requisite competencies. This process will be more vital than ever during this time of working remotely.

Last updated: January 14, 2021

Q: Can I still sign up for the Admission Course?

A:  While the OAA Conference and in-house versions of the Admission Course have been suspended, Intern Architects wishing to fulfil their Admission Course requirements this year are encouraged to enrol in the online version through the University of Toronto. 

Last updated: April 19, 2021

Q: Can I continue to enter experience on my CERB if I have been laid off?

A: As an Intern Architect or Student Associate, you can continue to enter any outstanding experience if you are no longer employed, provided you were employed at the time you gained the experience and your Supervising Architect can confirm the experience.

In the event of any changes to your employment due to COVID-19, contact the OAA and refer to section 1.3 of the Internship in Architecture Program (IAP) Manual for further information.

Last updated: April 1, 2020

Q: Will COVID-19 affect the OAA review of my CERB submission?

A: OAA staff is working remotely and exercising best efforts to maintain regular review and processing times. However, due to the evolving situation and factors beyond control, experience review times could be delayed.

Last updated: April 1, 2020

Q: Should Student Associates keep logging hours if they have reached the allowable 760 hours?

A: For information related to the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB) certification process, please check for updates at cacb.ca/special-announcement.

There may be some delays in the CACB assessment timelines during the pandemic, and the OAA is carefully monitoring the situation. For Student Associates who are have been logging student hours and are now awaiting CACB certification the OAA recommends that you continue to log hours. If you reach the maximum allowable 760 hours as a Student Associate while waiting for CACB certification please contact officeoftheregistrar@oaa.on.ca or the staff you are already in communication with at the OAA.

Last updated: April 19, 2021

Q: Is CACB’s Academic Certification Program still accepting applications? Is BEFA still active?

A: On April 26, 2020, the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB) issued an update about the Academic Certification Program, the Broadly Experienced Foreign Architects (BEFA) program, and others. Visit cacb.ca/special-announcement.

Last updated: April 27, 2020