How To Be a Better Mentee

Every year, IIDA pairs two students with an interior designer for a one-day crash course on a day in the life of a designer. Student Mentoring Week, one of IIDA’s most dynamic program offerings, is the catalyst for many IIDA student members who wish to begin a mentoring relationship with a professional interior designer. By the time this column is published, nearly 500 IIDA student members will have made meaningful connections with the best in the interior design industry. The goal is for the students and their mentors to continue buildings connections like these after the
day is over.

There is no doubt that a strong mentoring relationship can play a huge role in a student’s academic and professional success. Numerous studies support the positive effects of mentoring relationships. Many companies like Boeing and Deloitte implement professional mentoring programs to develop and retain younger employees. But if you think mentoring is simply weekly Starbucks dates with a senior-level professional or a quick way to score professional success—including a job—think again.

The reality is that mentoring relationships require a serious investment of time, patience, and effort for both the mentor and mentee. While a mentor’s role is to guide, a mentee’s role holds just as much weight, if not more. Ultimately, you—the mentee—have primary say in your mentoring relationship. You initiate the mentoring relationship, you are responsible for nurturing it, and you can end it. Here are some tips to help you in your quest to find a mentor and be the mentee that mentors want.

Define the Relationship
Mentorship is a word that conjures many notions and expectations.

Some students come into a mentoring relationship expecting their mentor to offer them a job or provide them lifelong coaching without first determining if the partnership is a good one. Have a strong definition of what mentorship means to you and use that when seeking teachers, designers, peers, and work colleagues you admire and pursue. If you’re having trouble identifying what you want from your relationship, ask yourself:

  • Do I want to emulate my mentor’s career or am I looking for someone who will act like a trusted friend?
  • Do I want someone who will help me search for educational and life opportunities in addition to career opportunities?
  • How long do I want my mentor in my life? Do I want someone who knows me enough to write a sufficient letter of reference or do I want someone who will be a guiding figure throughout my entire career?

Be proactive in your search for a mentor, considering goals for the relationship and how long it will last. Understand why you need mentorship and how it can help you succeed professionally.

Gain Agreement
Once you have your mentorship goals in mind, communicate them clearly to your potential mentor and ask what expectations the mentor has. Discuss and decide upon the relationship you want to build together in advance. The most successful mentoring relationships are those founded on clear goals and ground rules. Be upfront—your mentor will thank you.

Seek Multiple Mentors
Traditionally, mentoring relationships are characterized by a two-person model with a senior person discussing a student’s goals, needs, weaknesses, and accomplishments. In a perfect world, one person is enough to help you tackle all your concerns. But can you really have just one mentor? You will most likely need multiple mentors of various ages, skills, and traits to guide you with each of your needs.

Research on mentoring relationships and programs shows that mentoring is most effective when the mentee has a diverse constellation of mentors, from a traditional primary mentor to peer and short-term ones as well. Do you aspire to be an interior designer with your own firm? Consider reaching out to both an interior designer and a business owner. Each person brings different perspectives and wisdom. Take your search further—explore outside your boundaries and tap into the networks of your friends and colleagues.

Do Your Homework and Invest
Prepare for each meeting with your mentor as if it’s a task for your job. Dress professionally. Show up on time with a notebook and pen, ready to listen and take notes. Research your mentor’s interests, ask questions, and talk about the why behind the answers. Share your portfolio.

Mentoring is a two-way street. Go beyond “checking in” and give your mentor opportunities to offer insight and advice. As you get to know your mentor, think of ways you can add value to the relationship. Bring up a recent news story or study that you think would be of interest or provide your mentor a new networking connection.

Be Open
Your mentor will challenge you. Giving you honest feedback is his or her job. Come into the relationship appreciating that there is a chance you will reexamine your goals and consider new ideas. While setting clear goals and objectives at the beginning of the relationship is crucial, also realize that these goals and objectives may change as the relationship progresses.

Be Honest
Do you get along with your mentor? If the fit doesn’t feel right, bow out. Mentoring should be established as no-fault relationship where either you or your mentor can end it for good reason at any time without risk of harm to your respective careers.

When done right, mentoring is a powerful tool that can change careers and lives. So be fearless in what you want and humble when someone agrees to be your mentor. You’ll be surprised by how much people want to help you if you just ask for it.


This post was originally published in Interiors & Sources.

IIDA New England: Committed to Interior Design Advocacy Through Action

Over the last 18 months, the IIDA New England Chapter – with help from IIDA HQ – has hired a lobbying firm, actively engaged with ASID legislative leaders, reached out to the Massachusetts design community, met with lawmakers and officials, and introduced an interior design registration bill into the Massachusetts State Legislature. Undertaking an initiative of this size and scope is no small task and requires a team effort as well as strong leadership. Aimee M. Schefano, Vice President of Advocacy for the New England Chapter, has led the charge, working diligently to convey the importance of this initiative both to the Chapter board and local design leaders.

The lesson learned by IIDA New England? IIDA Chapters have power when it comes to advocacy. Board members are leaders in the design community, and as such, have an amplified voice. When those voices are conveying the same message, real change can happen. If an issue is important to the profession, it is too important to sit on the sidelines.

In addition to the amplified voice of board members, IIDA Chapters can reallocate funding to support advocacy initiatives. While there are many priorities in a Chapter’s budget— from professional development initiatives to events—boards can help rearrange how funding is used, create new revenue streams, or prioritize advocacy and legislation above other initiatives. IIDA New England demonstrated this by using their chapter funds to engage with one of the preeminent lobbying firms in New England.

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It has also proven important for the Chapter to work together with other associations in order to build a strong network of professionals working to advance a common goal. Schefano and Past-President Corinne Barthelemy have worked with ASID New England to create the Massachusetts Advocacy Council of ASID and IIDA, operating under the two chapters and facilitating the shared mission to advance the profession of interior design.

“Educating our profession is crucial to progress. Part of that education requires IIDA members to work collaboratively with other industry leaders. We are never stronger than when we all stand together against adversity,” said Schefano. “In Massachusetts, the design community is represented by a multitude of associations. What has helped us evolve our advocacy strategy is acknowledging that ultimately we are all interior designers, and that is what is most important. “

Through unified voices, effective funding, and organizational collaborations, IIDA New England has set a foundation that will surely lead to advocacy successes in Massachusetts.


For more on interior design advocacy, visit advocacy.iida.org

Passion and Practice in Action at the 2016 Advocacy Symposium

Today’s post is written by Stacey Crumbaker, IIDA, Assoc AIA, who attended the 2016 IIDA Advocacy Symposium in Denver on Sept. 23 – 25, 2016. 

The second annual IIDA Advocacy Symposium flew by – a whirlwind of thoughtful, impassioned conversations dedicated to advancing interior design recognition across the country. Hosted in Denver by IIDA and the Rocky Mountain Chapter, the Symposium was an opportunity for interior design advocates to connect, share best practices, and reinvigorate our collective passion for the profession.

Practicing at the intersection of architecture and interior design, I’ve been supporting interior design recognition since moving to Seattle in 2011 and serving as the Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs for the Northern Pacific Chapter. Coping with a recent defeat at the capitol, the Chapter had taken a step back to reframe our approach to the legislative process. Our focus shifted to a broader definition of advocacy, which included engaging our city communities and developing a shared vision among our industry professionals. In parallel, the IIDA International Board of Directors prioritized advocacy and launched a series of initiatives to support change, such as the Advocacy Symposium and Advisory Council.  Continue reading

5 Reasons to Get Motivated About Interior Design Advocacy

Today’s post is guest written by IIDA Professional Member Holly Baird, LEED AP ID+C, WELL AP.

Attending the IIDA Advocacy Symposium is a ditch-your-spouse-on-your-wedding-anniversary kind of opportunity. At least, it was for me in 2015.  #sorrynotsorry #advocacyinaction. So what did I learn last year that trumped celebrating my marriage? Here are my top five highlights:

“Never accept a ‘no’ from someone who doesn’t have the power to say ‘yes.’”

IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, LEED AP, painted a picture of advocates as optimists living in the present. They have a healthy respect for the past but don’t dwell on it, and they understand that the future can happen in a nanosecond. Advocates do not let others define who they are in a political context. They know the value of “yes” and when to say “no,” and they know that sometimes “no” is the beginning of the negotiation. Lastly, Cheryl challenged us to “never accept a ‘no’ from someone who doesn’t have the power to say ‘yes.’”

All Wins Matter

Ryan Ben, Student Engagement and Advancement Manager, told us to hone our message: “Find the heart, find the brain, and lose the fat.” The way to motivate others is through positivity – all wins matter. But arguably the best advice Ryan gave actually comes from the incomparable Parks and Recreation character, Ron Swanson: “Never half ass two things. Whole ass one thing.”

2015 IIDA Advocacy Symposium

Ryan Ben, Student Engagement and Advancement Manager at IIDA, presenting at last year’s Advocacy Symposium.

 

Be an Out-Hustler

Texas Representative Celia Israel taught us that a lawmaker is only as strong as stakeholder interest and, when you pursue legislation, all the work happens long before the first day of session. She recommended the best way to handle opposition stakeholders is to out-hustle them.

The Power of Networking – and Rising Above

Melanie Bahl, IIDA, President of I.D.E.A.L. for Utah, and lobbyist Amy Coombs told us about the power of asking for recommendations and name dropping shared connections to get your foot in the door. The most resonating piece of advice: the value of being united in purpose, message, and action. “To rise above the din and be heard, voices must be linked in something approaching unison.”

2015 IIDA Advocacy Symposium

IIDA Members at the 2015 Advocacy Symposium welcome reception.

 

It’s Not Just About You, It’s About Them

Other lobbyists cautioned us against asking for something the first time you meet a legislator. Go in when you don’t need something. Better yet, go when they need you.

The 2016 IIDA Advocacy Symposium will be educational, inspirational, and even therapeutic. Together, we will celebrate our interior design wins – big and small – from across the nation. The agenda has been carefully crafted with presenters who will arm you with political, grassroots, managerial, and strategic know-how. You will expand your resources, have epiphanies about what you could be doing in your state, and leave refreshed and refueled with new ideas and tactics that will guide you in your advocacy efforts. Fortunately for me, this year’s Symposium doesn’t conflict with my anniversary because I sure would hate to leave my husband a second year in a row. See you in Denver!


 Holly Baird, LEED AP ID+C, WELL AP, is the Director of the Tennessee Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. She is a member of the IIDA Advocacy Advisory Council and, in May of this year, was appointed to the Livable Nashville Committee started by Nashville’s Mayor Megan Barry.

 The 2016 Advocacy Symposium will take place in Denver from Sept. 23-25. IIDA Members receive a special discounted rate to the event. Learn more about the Symposium and register by Sept. 16, 2016.

Looking Back, Charging Forward: The 2015 IIDA Annual Report

IIDA Members know and respect the profession—we deeply understand the intrinsic value of what we do, but we need a common language, shared vision and values, and opportunities to advance the profession. The 2015 Annual Report serves as a retrospective, but it also illustrates how IIDA continues to be nimble, fiscally healthy, and, with your enthusiasm and dedication, committed to creating a strong interior design community.

Here’s the short list of what we accomplished and how we influenced the industry in 2015:

Our Members

  • 15,000+ members spread across 58 countries, 35 Chapters, and 80 Campus Centers
  • 50 percent of membership composed of designers, 26 percent manufacturers, and 24 percent students
  • 51 percent of IIDA Members work in large firms and 27 percent work in small firms

 Celebrating Industry Leaders and Design Visionaries

  • Star Award: Yves Béhar, Founder and Principal Designer of fuseproject
  • Titan Award: Patricia Urquiola, IIDA, Architect and Designer who has designed for Alessi, Haworth, Salvatore Ferragamo, among other notables
  • IIDA Educator of the Year: Virginia San Fratello, IIDA
  • IIDA Student of the Year: Tara Headley, Student IIDA
  • IIDA Member of the Year: Jane Hallinan, Assoc. IIDA

Elevating the Interior Design Profession, Expanding Our Presence

  • The inaugural IIDA Advocacy Symposium in Austin, Texas, welcomed nearly 100 designers, architects, students, and other industry professionals for an inspiring three days filled with educational sessions, keynote speakers, and expert panels on the topic of advocacy best practices.
  • IIDA supported emerging design professionals with yearly programs such as the Student Design Competition and the IIDA Student Mentoring Program, which paired more than 800 students and mentors in 2015, allowing students to get out of the classroom and into the real world of interior design for a day of job shadowing.
  • IIDA officially welcomed a new chapter, the IIDA Hawaii Pacific Chapter, serving Hawaii and the Pacific Rim.

Looking to the Future

But wait, there’s more: As the Association continues to strengthen its commitment to elevating the profession, it is creating programs, launching initiatives, and tackling the topics that will define our industry in the years to come. Here are just a few of the tools, resources, events, and initiatives you can expect from IIDA in 2016 and beyond:

  • The newly-formed IIDA Diversity Council is charged with goals ranging from funding diversity research to creating a curriculum that encourages students of diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in design.
  • 2nd Annual IIDA Advocacy Symposium will focus on developing an understanding of what advocacy means and how to apply practical skills and proven techniques to articulate the value and mission of interior design.
  • Design Leveraged, Part II, the second in our Design Leveraged series with the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA), provides commercial interior designers with the research they need to better communicate the value of an office redesign to C-level executives.

Read the entire 2015 Annual Report, including a financial overview and detailed information on programming, at www.iida.org.

Q&A with the Interior Design Legislative Coalition of Pennsylvania

The Interior Design Legislative Coalition of Pennsylvania (IDLCPA) has been diligently working to promote the Interior Design profession through legislative efforts. IDLCPA introduced legislation in 2016 that would allow for the registration of interior designers in Pennsylvania. Currently, the architecture law prevents interior designers from working to the fullest extent of their abilities. Here, Jennifer Winters, NCIDQ, President of IDLCPA, provides highlights of the organization’s work, her insight into advocating for interior design, and an overview of the new legislation.

IIDA: How would this legislation impact your career and the careers of interior designers?

Winters: Interior designers are currently restricted by the state of Pennsylvania from practicing interior design in a code-based environment. IDLCPA is working on legislation seeking interior design registration for designers that practice code-driven interior planning and design. Senate bill PA SB 1021 will address registration in a way that will not impact designers currently practicing in residential, kitchen and bath, and decorative markets. When passed, the legislation will directly impact my career and the career of many other interior designers in a positive way by allowing interior designers to:

  • Submit permit drawings for their clients without having to hire an architect.
  • Bid on state and federal interior design contracts.
  • Certify documents for permitting.
  • Benefit from reciprocity.
  • Provide consumers a venue for the redress of grievances.
  • Reduce consumer costs by eliminating the expensive document processing.

Additionally, this would establish a requirement that licensed interior designers continually educate themselves on the practices of interior design.

IIDA: How has the coalition built grassroots support for the legislation?

Winters: For the IDLCPA coalition, communication has been key. We are constantly looking for new ways to communicate with architects, interior designers, and industry members.

We host town hall events across the state, which tend to be more intimate group conversations.

We use LinkedIn and Facebook.

We partner with IIDA and ASID. Both organizations always allow us the time and space to advocate for interior design licensure.

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IIDA: What has surprised you the most about the legislative process?

Winters: I was surprised at how many people have an opinion regarding an issue, but do not take action. I also was surprised at how approachable our legislators are and how interested they are to hear from their constituents. The time and consideration that senators and representatives have given IDLCPA has been amazing. Many have offered support and strategies over the years, and this has been a critical part of our success.

IIDA: What do you wish other designers knew about interior design legislation?

Winters: Interior designers need to understand that the profession is restricted and that their future is limited to working under a registered architect. This legislation supports the growth, development, and future education of the Interior Design profession.

IIDA: How has the IIDA Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware Chapter supported the legislative efforts?

Winters: Over the years, our IIDA local chapter has donated endless hours of time and resources. We often partner in fundraising events that allow IDLCPA to continue to pay for our lobbyist fees, Interior Design Day at the Capitol, marketing materials, and travel expenses. IIDA also allows IDLCPA to advertise and promote our cause within its communications. As the IIDA Advocacy platform has grown, the coalition benefits from new marketing materials and the connection with the government relations department, as well as the energized supporters that want to help.