5,600 hours. That’s the minimum amount of time required to complete IDP. But what does that mean, exactly? (Warning: there be math ahead.)
If a typical work week is 40 hours, that means that IDP requires (at a minimum) 140 weeks to complete (5,600/ 40 = 140).
If there are 47 work weeks in a given year (52 weeks, minus 3 weeks for the standard amount of time off, minus another 2 weeks for holidays), that means that IDP requires just under 3 years to complete (140/ 47 = 2.97). Again, at a minimum.
I hate to break it to you, but it’s going to take you a little longer than that.
The three-year rule of thumb for internship has become something of a staple of our profession (harkening all the way back to the days before a formal IDP process was established — you had to earn three years’ worth of experience before you could sit for the exam), but of course, it assumes that every hour spent during those three years is worthwhile experience, counting toward each of the 17 distinct Experience Areas defined in the IDP Guidelines.
I’m sure that it’s possible, but the reality is that it will likely take a little longer to complete IDP. Exactly how long depends on you, your supervisor, and your employment setting, as well as a whole host of other things that are beyond your control (economic downturns, projects being placed on indefinite hold, a lack of any current projects under construction, etc). (NCARB by the Numbers has shown the average amount of time required to be 5 years. Counting a summer internship during college, it took me well over 4 years to finish.)
That’s where Supplemental Experience comes into play. There’s no way around earning the required 5,600 hours, but Supplemental Experience can help you to earn them faster than you would in the traditional 40-hours-per-week work setting. For example, working with a mentor (or mentors!), an intern could visit a construction site or perform tasks in the Emerging Professionals Companion, which, when added to the time already spent in the office, can in turn help to complete your internship in less time. Even better, Supplemental Experience can be earned in both major categories — the minimum 3,740 Core Hours, which every intern needs to earn in the same quantities, as well as the 1,860 Elective Hours, which allows an internship to be tailored to a paticular set of skills, interests, and professional goals.
Over the course of a semi-regular series called Toward 5600, we’ll look a little more closely at IDP’s Supplemental Experience categories. Look for posts tagged 5600 for great opportunities to earn credit beyond the traditional work setting… and accelerate your internship.