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Why Advocacy Matters: The Student Perspective

Should interior design advocacy matter to young professionals who are just getting started in the industry—or even just getting started in a degree program? Absolutely. Here, IIDA Student Member Lindsey Torpey, a senior in interior design at the University of North Texas (she’s also simultaneously in her first year of the Master of Arts in Sustainability program), shares her thoughts on the importance of advocating for the profession and how attending last year’s IIDA Advocacy Symposium changed her perspective on interior design certification.

What is your role in the IIDA Texas Oklahoma Chapter?

Lindsey: I’m the Student Representative to the Board. In my position on the Texas Oklahoma Chapter Board, I act as a voice for students in the Chapter. Through my personal experiences as a Student Member and by speaking with other students about their experiences, I am able to add insight to Board meetings and discussions. The Board created my position last year as a way to have a more direct connection with students and a better understanding of what students need from their IIDA Student membership.

What does advocacy mean to you as a student?

Lindsey: For me, advocacy means spreading the understanding of what interior designers do every day, so we can continue to protect the health, safety, and welfare of individuals.

Can you tell us about your experience at the inaugural Advocacy Symposium in 2015?

Lindsey: The Advocacy Symposium was fantastic and educational! I really enjoyed all of the great speakers. Having the opportunity to hear directly from our lobbyists was so interesting. I knew a portion of my IIDA membership dues went to the advocacy campaign, but hearing how my funds contributed to their efforts was very interesting. We were also able to hear firsthand how Utah is fighting their advocacy campaign, which I think we can say they have made a huge step as they recently passed their bill for the certification of commercial interior designers in Utah. I also loved the tour of the Texas Capitol; it is jam-packed with so many beautiful details.

For me, the biggest takeaway from the Symposium was finally understanding the how struggle for licensure, registration, and certification is an ongoing process across the nation. I didn’t realize the scope of the situation. We each need to work to inform those around us of the difference registered interior designers make in our lives.

Advocacy_Student

Lindsey Torpey, Student IIDA, Student Representative to the Board of the IIDA Texas Oklahoma Chapter

 

Do you plan on getting registered?

Lindsey: Yes, I plan to get registered. I think sitting for the NCIDQ and becoming registered is so important. Those three letters, RID, communicate a knowledge base not everyone possesses. It communicates the work and dedication you have devoted to the profession. And overall, it communicates that you work every day to protect the health, safety, and welfare of society.

How can students get involved in interior design advocacy?

Lindsey: Advocacy is something where a discussion needs to be had. I didn’t know the scope of our advocacy campaign before the Symposium, and I really didn’t understand we needed to be making such significant efforts.


Students: Mark your calendars for the 2nd annual IIDA Advocacy Symposium scheduled for Sept. 23-25 at the Grand Hyatt in Denver, Colorado. Registration opens in May. Students receive a special registration rate. Learn more.

Mentors from Chipman Design Architecture

Wrapping Up Student Mentoring Week 2015

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 bbrittan@iida.org.