Most graduates of an interior design program don’t expect to get famous from their interior design careers. But once in a while, an opportunity opens up and you just have to take it. That’s what happened to Louisiana State University graduate Kenneth Brown. Brown, who graduated from the interior design program at Louisiana State University in 1995, started his own design firm, Kenneth Brown Design. One day, Home and Garden Television (HGTV) asked Brown to guest host a few shows. The next thing he knew, he had his own design show called “reDesign” where he transforms homeowners’ living spaces, walking them step-by-step through the creative process. As of 2005, Brown has finished taping his first design show season.
Thought about becoming a gourmet chef, but think you’ll have much more fun figuring out how to build the kitchen? Consider becoming a kitchen designer. In this specialty field of interior design, you’ll be involved in the layout of kitchens from the typical kitchen home to a full sized kitchen of a large residence. Design kitchens for hotels, restaurants, and hospitals. You’ll become involved in the selection of appliances, and consider the flooring and counter tops as well. You’ll find jobs for this specialty field of interior design in kitchen design firms, home remodeling stores, and kitchen showrooms. The National Kitchen and Bath Association has started an endorsement of educational programs for you to become a kitchen designer. Go to www.nkba.org for more information.
You have your interior design degree, an internship, a portfolio, and resume all ready to go. All you have to do is ace the next interior design interview and you’ll be on your way to a promising career. To boost your chances of landing the job with the slick and innovative design firm you’ve been eyeing, pay attention to what interior design employers are looking for.
• Employers want an interior design candidate who first and foremost, has a friendly and positive, outgoing personality. Surprised? Part of working as an interior designer means interacting with clients, vendors, and other members of your project team. People skills are an important part of the interior design interview.
• To shine as an interior design candidate, show your potential employers that you have great communication skills. You should be clearly able to present your ideas and projects. As an interior designer, you’ll have to communicate your ideas in a way that other people can understand.
• Your technical skills as an interior designer are also important to interior design employers. The firm that hires you wants to know that you have a good sense of design, proportion, color, and the technical know how to make a project come together.
You may have occasionally heard the terms for interior decorator and interior designer interchanged. However, there is a difference between the two titles. An interior decorator generally refers to someone who deals with finishes, surfaces, furniture, and wall coverings. An interior decorator may work in a variety of venues from a design showroom to a remodeling retail store. There is no government regulation regarding the work of an interior decorator. An interior designer is a more specialized career field, requiring a certain combined level of education, work experience, and licensing. An interior designer may create spaces for the inside of a commercial office building, design the lighting for a restaurant, or select the furnishings of a home. An interior designer may also deal with issues of safety like accessibility and building codes.
An interior design education is your gateway into a promising career. In order to maximize the resources available to you while you are in school, get involved as much as you can.
• Be proactive and approach your faculty for advice on career guidance as well as feedback on your projects.
• Actively seek internships and ways to get real world experience while getting your interior design education.
• Make use of student competitions to push your design skills and become involved in the community.
• Join professional student organizations to start networking and gaining valuable educational and career resources.
When you’re getting ready to interview for an interior design job, you need to have a great interior design portfolio. Remember that having a great portfolio to show at your next interview takes time and effort. Keep these tips in mind before you look for your next interior design job:
• Start with the portfolio case. Pick a case that is professional and representative of the industry and market you’re interviewing for. If you’re sending your resume to a mainstream design firm, go with a basic, nondescript portfolio case. If you’re applying to an edgy, trendy retail store, you might get away with a portfolio case with more pizazz.
• Spend some time to research other portfolios to get an idea of layout and design possibilities.
• Pick pieces representative of your best work. Don’t put in pieces that you have to apologize for.
• Prioritize the order of your portfolio pieces. Don’t simply throw in random examples of your work. Instead, imagine explaining your designs to your potential employer. Pick an exciting piece in the beginning and end of your portfolio.
• Target your portfolio pieces. Make sure that what you put in your interior design portfolio best represents the job you are applying for. Your portfolio doesn’t have to be set in stone. You can change some pieces out for new ones, depending on your job interview.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|