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For any interior designers out there, what were the steps you took to get to where you are now? Any advice

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Kim’s Answer

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My advise is to get a degree in ID, choose a school or program that focuses on the type of design you are interested in and that is accredited. Once you have your degree, interview or request informational interviews with different types of firms, they all have different design focuses and find what interest you. Don't be afraid to try different types of design or related fields of design, there are so many possibilities.

I knew I wanted to focus on commercial interior design in workplace (office space design). I then moved into design project management, from there construction project management and also or a very short time was a project manager in commercial furniture. I love to learn and be challenged, I also wanted to learn all aspects of my profession, the only way for me to do that was to try them all.

I am now working for a Tech company as our Global Director of Workplace Design and Construction, traveling to all of our new locations to design, construct and open our new office spaces.

Kim recommends the following next steps:

  • Always follow your heart and interests, don't be afraid to try new things and do what makes you happy. If you do all of these things you will have a very happy and fulfilling career and life.
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Sheevana’s Answer

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Start with school, specifically a program that offers a degree in ID. You'll learn and experience the different avenues of ID, and there are many to pick from. But that is only the beginning, to really dive into the different areas, you have to participate in them, and have a constant yearning to learn more, it will help you find that niche that is perfect for you. The options are endless, and the wonderful thing about ID is that it is ALWAYS changing, so if you love a challenge, this is definitely the right path for you. You can also look into internships, while you're in school, at different companies, from furniture dealerships (mostly commercial focus), to residential design firms, or even A&D (architecture and design) comapnies. An internship can teach you so much about hands on experience and really see what the day to day looks like.

When I was starting school, I had a passion focused on Residential Kitchen and Bath, but as I learned about all the different areas (interior walls, finishes, lighting, furniture design, furniture space planning, etc.), it opened up my mind to all the possibilities that this career can expose you to. In just one semester, at the end of my Senior year of college, my focus completely shifted from Residential to Healthcare. I honestly have not looked back, it just called to me. It took a lot of hardwork to get to where I am currently, and honestly some time to finally get my foot in the door, but an amazing company eventually brought me onto their Healthcare team. I have worked on hospitals and VA facilities for a few years now, and have seen empty spaces become places of healing and comfort during tough times. And I got to be a part of that. Within that company I grew not only as a Designer but also as a Leader. I eventually took on a role of both Supervisor and a Designer that was dedicated to a couple specific clients, and have helped develope the team into what it is today.

Some of my classmates have since followed a similar path, and some have started their own Residential design firms. It is different for everyone. There is no one way to find out the right path for you, just dive in, and soak up as much as possible until you find that thing that just clicks.

Sheevana recommends the following next steps:

  • Find out more about the different areas of ID
  • While you're in school look into joining IIDA as a student, and look into their local events. Network, talk to the folks at those events.
  • Intern while you're school, if you can.
  • Embrace challenges - you will always walk away from a challenge having learned something valuable.
  • Try different things, even if they scare you, it could lead to the happiest career path.
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