The ability to create inspiring, functional spaces with respect to well-being, safety, building codes, and more is a skill set necessary for interior design students. Just as important is the ability to connect, communicate, and gain valuable experience with established professionals in the industry. As one of the most dynamic mentoring programs in the Interior Design industry, IIDA Student Mentoring Week provides students with the opportunity to make this connection.
“I joined IIDA when I heard about the mentoring program for students. The idea of being able to spend a whole day at a real firm and see professionals in their work environment was thrilling,” said Diana Dambaeva, Student IIDA. “I learned a lot about the value of networking and the various niches existing within the industry.”
Student Mentoring Week was established as a platform to provide meaningful networking experience for both mentors and students. This year saw over 800 mentors and students paired, with participation levels rivaling some of the highest in the history of the annual program. Current design professionals, manufacturer representatives, dealers, and anyone with a career in the Interior Design industry are encouraged to volunteer as a mentor. All active IIDA Student Members are encouraged to sign up for a day of job-shadowing experience. Participating firms have included Gensler, Perkins+Will, IA Interior Architects, among others. Companies including Herman Miller, Kimball Office, Steelcase, and AIS have also hosted students throughout the program’s long history.
Though the program revolves around one day of job-shadowing and networking, a number of relationships forged in this experience have resulted in internships and employment for many students—a fact not lost on potential participants.
While students benefit from the experience and advice as they navigate the waters of the professional world of Interior Design, mentors are also afforded the opportunity to inspire the next generation of designers by exposing students to techniques and technology not available in the classroom.
“Students at that age are eager to learn and experience,” said Patricia Rotondo, IIDA, Principal at Chipman Design Architecture. “We design branded environments using 3-D visualization and prototype design techniques in multiple markets that students couldn’t experience otherwise.”
Many students who have participated in the program in previous years have given back to the interior design community by volunteering as mentors in their later professional years. The cyclical nature of the event inspires today’s students to do the same. “It was a very precious moment for me as a student to meet mentors in the professional field,” said Aidan Han, Student IIDA. “That encourages me a lot to become a good mentor in the future.”
Want to be part of the Student Mentoring Program? Registration for next year begins in November for mentors and students! For more information about the Student Mentoring Program, visit the program page or contact Beatrice Brittan, Student Outreach Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.