Part II: Top Things I Wish I Knew in School

Part II: Top Things I Wish I Knew in School

By:  Yvonne Rush and Lindsay Ferro

  1. Everyone says “network, network, network!” and boy is that true. Make yourself known and connect with people in the industry. Every interview we had was initiated by other people, and none of the job openings were posted online.
  2. Get involved in school through your student chapters of ASID, IIDA, USGBC, IDCI, or any professional student chapter! Don’t have one at your school? Be a leader, get a group together, and start one!
  3. Save digital copies of your school projects, and take the time to specify every detail. It will be good practice for the future.
  4. Punch lists- not a term heard often in school- they are a list of tasks to check/complete onsite at the end of a project.
  5. Think outside the box when you’re applying! There are so many possible careers you can go into with an interior design degree- move coordination, interior designer, sales representative, CAD/Revit technician, model & renderings, lighting specialist, etc.
  6. Everyone’s job experience is different within each company, even if you have the same title.
  7. Internships are invaluable. Having an internship during school will improve your class projects, and help to “give you a leg up” on your competition when looking for a job after graduation.
  8. Don’t disregard any professional experience. Even if you are more focused on the materials library during an internship, you’ll be able to recognize brands, materials (corner guards and wall protection…where were those in my projects??), and become familiar with the local reps.
  9. Your alumni are great allies in the industry, and keeping in touch with your alma mater really does pay it forward. You’ll have your degree forever.  (Boiler Up!)
  10. Being the new kid, you become the go-to person for all things technological. That being said, don’t put a software program on your resume that you really don’t know how to use. If needed, take the initiative on your own to learn some of the basics of an unfamiliar software program.
  11. Create a brand for yourself. Make sure your cover letter, resume, portfolio, etc. are consistent.
  12. Be prepared for your interview! Make sure to do research ahead of time on the company, its projects, its style, and its employees, and gear your portfolio to their company. Their main focus is commercial design? Don’t show them a portfolio full of residential projects.
  13. People have very different opinions on how to do a portfolio, how to look for a job, and what to wear to an interview. There isn’t one “right” way. Be a professional “you”!
  14. Don’t give up! Timing is everything. Just because a company is not hiring now does not mean things won’t quickly change.
  15. No matter how much you thought you learned in school, it wasn’t enough. You don’t know everything and you will constantly be learning. Always be asking questions to absorb more!
  16. Every project, designer, and architect has a different process. The schematic phase in one project can be much different than the schematics in another.
  17. Never lose your sense of humor. Trying to find a job/internship can be intimidating and demanding, but hard work does pay off. Some days you’ll only hear “no” or even worse silence, and those are the days your hard drive crashes or files are corrupted…take a deep breath and have a laugh. You’ll need that sense of humor in the “real world” too.
  18. Enjoy every minute with your classmates and friends. It goes by way too fast, and that time is invaluable.

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