Peer to Peer: Practical Advice on Jumpstarting Your Interior Design Career from 4 IIDA Students of the Year

Whether you’re a recent graduate or career shifter, embarking on a new design career can be a daunting task. Polishing your resume and portfolio, asking meaningful questions during the interview, tackling the job search at multiple angles – we all know it’s hard work that takes time, patience, and confidence. But what exactly does that look like? We reached out to this year’s IIDA Career Bootcamp panelists — four IIDA Student of the Year recipients, including the 2018 Student of the Year — for their practical advice on what has helped them navigate their careers so far. Read on for part one of our interview.

Meet the Panelists

Tara Headley, Associate IIDA, is the 2015 IIDA Student of the Year and recipient of the inaugural award. She is an interior designer at Hendrick, Inc., currently specializing in corporate workplace environments. Tara was born and raised in Barbados and proudly represents her Caribbean heritage through her cooking skills and love of bright colors in her fashion choices. For Tara, designing is a privilege and a means to change the way we see the world.

Amy Leigh Hufford, Associate IIDA, is the 2016 IIDA Student of the Year and is a corporate workplace interior designer at NELSON’s Philadelphia office. When she isn’t working, she’s an active member of the IIDA Philadelphia City Center and PhilaU’s First Five alumni association.

Lindzey Duval, Student IIDA, is the 2017 IIDA Student of the Year and is working as an interior design coordinator at HDR in Chicago where she currently focuses on corporate and healthcare environments. Lindzey moved to Chicago in July of 2017 after completing her bachelor’s degree at Texas State University. She is a passionate designer who is dedicated to creating memorable, human-centered designs that have a positive and lasting impact.

Allison Brown, Student IIDA, is the 2018 IIDA Student of the Year and graduate of Utah State University. Allison’s dedication and eagerness to learn have helped her to graduate magna cum laude and become LEED Green Associate. She starts her career as a professional designer at the New York office of Perkins + Will in September.

Approaching the Interview

Tara: The most important thing to me is to be genuinely interested in the job. I know sometimes we need to take positions that aren’t our top picks, but if that’s the case, find something about the position or firm that you can get behind. If you can’t find anything, chances are you wouldn’t thrive there anyway and should maybe look elsewhere.

That said, if you can go into the interview with a sense of the company, it’s values and what they expect of you for your position, you are at an advantage to further the conversation beyond a typical interview. Definitely use this information to tailor your responses. One surefire way to show them that you’re the right candidate is to relate your portfolio/skills to how you can help the firm. For example, if you find out that the firm does renderings by hand and you have that skill, be sure to highlight that and mention how you can be an asset in that regard.

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Lindzey: Research information about the firm in advance of the interview. I’m not just talking about looking on their “About Us” page on their website. You can tell a lot about a firm from their graphics and how they showcase their work and themselves online. Find something that connects with your interests and have it in your back pocket to discuss during your interview. People can talk about themselves all day long in an interview, but a successful interview is when it turns into more of a conversation.

Amy: I’ve always felt that a good approach here is by tailoring your questions, conversation topics, and personal information (resume, portfolio, cover sheet) to that particular position at that company. That way you’ll be prepared before you arrive – there’s no need to only show an employer at a hospitality firm only hospitality-based projects, you can show them a breadth of work that you feel can drive a conversation about your varied skills that would make you an asset to that employer, doing that type of work.

Networking When You’re An Introvert

Allison: I think going with a friend or coworker or student can really alleviate the stress and nervousness of attending a networking event. Then, you know someone there and you can branch out little by little and network with other people at the event. I would agree that it’s scary, but you’ve just got to do it because it’s so important for your future! 

Amy: I personally feel like introversion and shyness are two different things, and you can tackle them both in specific ways. I’m an introvert, but I’m not shy. I feel that introverts are typically people who, by choice, spend a lot of time alone and don’t reveal a lot about themselves to others. Shy individuals are often uncertain of how to start conversations and sometimes keep them going once they’ve begun out of nervousness! For both, I’d suggest starting out by attending more “intimate” events. For example, in Philadelphia, we have events that draw crowds of nearly 300 and events with only 10 people. I think starting small helps to make connections and relationships, so at larger events you already know some people to talk to. General advice for introverts might be to come up with some talking points before attending events, so if the conversation begins to run out, you have a follow-up. “Have you read any good books lately?” is just an example and people often run with it.

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Lindzey: I have come to realize that many people in our industry are more introverted like myself, which may seem surprising because it is a very social industry. I found it easy to just start with a few people. Find people that have similar interests and that you enjoy being around. Then start branching out to meet more people to expand your network. There is no rush to know everyone. Developing your network connections is just as important has growing it.

Tara: As an introvert, I relate to this on a personal level. Introversion is only a setback if you let it be. I get mentally drained by being in social settings, meeting people, etc., which is true for most introverts. But what you need to tell yourself is that networking is for the betterment of your career. I started out by forcing myself to attend as many events as possible. I found that once I got over that initial hurdle, it became easier as time went on. The more you go, the more connections you make. And the industry is one where you can make friends and acquaintances easily. By the fourth or fifth time, you will walk into a room and know at least one other person you’ve met before. Volunteering at organizations like IIDA is also a great way to give back as well as meet people in a more casual way.

Cultivating Your Brand

Lindzey: Branding yourself on paper is a challenge! Our resumes and portfolios are the most important tangible items that we have to showcase ourselves and our work. Something I like to keep in the back of my head is less is more. Over branding yourself from a visualization perspective can be distracting to someone who is looking at your work. It is okay to have a little fun and embed your personality, though! Just be careful not to overdo it.

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Amy: I recently had a conversation with some professionals with 15+ years of experience that are also in a position to hire. They were saying they feel that students straight out of school brand themselves too much, which I thought was fascinating! A simple resume with a small touch of personality, as well as a matching portfolio and cover letter, are plenty. Photos on resumes and cover letters were discouraged, as well as a large amount of color and script fonts.

Tara: I feel like good graphic design goes hand in hand with what we do as interior designers. Understanding placement, alignment, and hierarchy is important in any presentation, and this is what I look for in a good portfolio package. A common element that ties the portfolio, resume, cover letter, and business card together is key, but what is also of equal importance is to not get carried away with creating a cool design that ends up taking away from your actual work. Keeping things simple is always good. Allow your work to take center stage instead of any bold graphics.


Stay tuned for part two of our interview coming soon. For more resources on starting your interior design career, visit the IIDA Career Bootcamp page.

Up Close with the IIDA Madison Area Technical College Campus Center

IIDA Campus Center: Madison Area Technical College

IIDA Chapter: Wisconsin Chapter

Where: Madison, Wisconsin

Number of Student Members: 36

IIDA Campus Centers are the first point of contact interior design students have to IIDA. Each one is unique in design, programming, and initiatives, which makes for a varied student experience across chapters. We want to highlight the diversity of IIDA Student Member experiences by introducing you to a handful of campus centers. From how they run their group to what activities garner the most student interest, here’s what we learned from the IIDA Madison Area Technical College Campus Center.

Give us a snapshot of your IIDA Campus Center.

Madison College is a two-year program. Students graduate with an associate degree in applied arts in interior design. We have been associated with other professional organizations in the past, but this is our first year as an IIDA Campus Center and it has been a busy and successful one!

How does your campus center handle the transition when current leaders graduate?

We promote leadership opportunities in the spring semester by visiting classrooms and speaking with students to encourage them to be involved. Interested students apply for the positions and the advisor and current board members review the applications to place members into positions. The incoming board members help plan our end of the year celebratory banquet as a way to transition them into leadership in a fun way. We also start planning for the next school year during the summer months so we can hit the ground running in fall.

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What kind of events and activities do you host at your Campus Center?

Throughout the year we host numerous “Lunch and Learns” where we bring in interior design professionals who represent a broad spectrum of interior design career paths. We also hold site visits, which provide insightful learning moments. There are also events to advocate for positive interaction and camaraderie within the interior design program itself, including hosting homework nights, finals week treats, and other optional offsite social activities as well as a program-wide end of the year banquet.

What are your favorite or most successful events and activities that you host?

A highlight of our on-campus events this year was our CEU and fundraiser, “Leveraging the Power of Social Media,” that brought in over 75 interior design professionals and students to learn about social media best practices. At this highly successful event, we also held a raffle with items donated from local businesses, helping us raise money for our campus center. Our IIDA Wisconsin Chapter Madison City Center helped us increase our professional attendance through their website and e-news blasts.

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How do you collaborate with your local chapter?

We are very connected and collaborative with our local chapter. We’re fortunate to have one of our student leaders serving as the student representative to the IIDA Wisconsin professional chapter board of directors this year. Our advisor also keeps in close communication with the local vice president of student affairs about local and national IIDA opportunities for our members. The chapter is very supportive of our campus center, and we really appreciate their help!

How do you get people engaged with your Campus Center and local chapter?

We have gotten our students engaged by hosting and encouraging participation in a large array of events. Our kick off meeting in fall of 2017 had over 50 students in attendance to hear about the benefits of membership from both our student leaders and chapter professional leaders. We think starting each semester off with a fun and informative kick-off is a great way to get people engaged. In addition, we communicate with students through Blackboard posts, the Remind app, emails, video announcements, classroom announcements, and event flyers to keep them fully informed.

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How has being an active and engaged IIDA volunteer helped you as an emerging design professional?

As board members planning our campus center activities, we feel that this experience has given us real-world opportunities to put into practice many of the skills we have learned about in school. It has been great to gain more experience in areas such as budgeting, event planning, and working in teams. We also have honed our communication skills, speaking in front of groups at various events and developing written communications as well as marketing materials for our events. As individuals, our involvement in IIDA has helped us become more comfortable with networking with professionals and we have made great connections that we tap into for advice and support.

Why is it critical to participate in the design community through a membership organization like IIDA?

We know that lifelong learning and professional connections are incredibly important – our faculty members here have drilled that into us!  Like anything, you will get out of it what you put in and being an active participant in professional organizations opens many doors to those that get involved!


To learn more about IIDA Campus Centers, visit iida.org.

 

 

 

5 IIDA Student Members Share Their Memorable Moments from the IIDA Student Conference

Last year, the Trustees of the IIDA Foundation added a new initiative to the Designing for the Future Campaign: A portion of the funds raised from the campaign sponsored five IIDA Student Members for an all-expenses paid trip to the 2018 IIDA Texas Oklahoma Chapter’s Student Conference. The annual Student Conference brings together an array of top students, educators, and design industry professionals for a multi-day professional enrichment experience that includes project and firm tours, mock interviews, and a variety of other networking opportunities. Here, these five students talk about what they took away from the experience, the value of portfolio reviews, and what getting outside of your comfort zone can do for yourself and your career.

Making Fast Friends

With my sponsorship from IIDA, I was able to attend the 18th annual IIDA Texas Oklahoma Chapter Student Conference, an opportunity I otherwise wouldn’t have financially been able to do. I was the only student from my school and from the state of Utah to attend the conference — I was pretty nervous. However, on the first day, I rode the bus from the hotel to the pep rally at the Haworth showroom. I randomly sat by another student who was also there by herself from Kansas. We realized that we were both recipients of the same sponsorship from IIDA. That evening we met another student from California who had been sponsored to attend the conference and we all quickly became friends.

I participated in the portfolio review and mock interviews. I was nervous but I was paired with incredible designers who were very genuine, talented, and eager to help me. They gave me great feedback and comments on my portfolio and how to interview with ease.

Allison Newell, Student IIDA, Utah State University, Inter Mountain Chapter

Realizing What You Want to Focus On 

I’ve always been told that to be the best designer, you have to walk out on a limb, make that extra effort, and step out of your comfort zone. Well, in my two years of traveling from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to Houston and Dallas, I can say that this conference has taught me some of the most valuable and interesting lessons about being the best designer I can be!

This year my experience was nothing short of amazing. Each year the Texas/Oklahoma Chapter make us Alabama students feel so welcome with their generosity and hospitality. Seriously, these volunteers who put together this conference give their hearts and souls to making this the most educational and rewarding experience for students. I have always known that I wanted to be a commercial designer, however, it was at last year’s student conference that I realized I wanted to focus on corporate and office design and create spaces that make work environments enjoyable.

Carmen Jenkins, Student IIDA, University of Alabama, Alabama Chapter

Surrounding Yourself with Passionate People

This was my first time ever attending the IIDA Student Conference. I’ll admit that I had no idea what to expect but the whole time being there was such a learning experience because I got to meet so many students that were just like me who knew what it was like to stay late in the studio to complete projects. It was so inspiring to see how passionate other people are about interior design, why they chose this career path, and what they are striving to be. There was so much to take in and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Nicolle Soriano, Student IIDA, Chaminade University of Honolulu, Hawaii Pacific Chapter

Learning How to Stand Up for Your Design

Any professional that I met, I made sure to grab their business cards. If they didn’t have one, I took a picture of their name tag. I now have a phone full of name tags and business cards. Each one of the professionals encouraged us to tap into their resources, ask them questions, email them about products, ideas, resumes, portfolios, etc. They wanted to help us succeed.

Our keynote speaker for the event, Primo Orpilla, co-founder of the firm Studio O+A, left all of us with some very wise words. He told us to find our voice, define our narrative, leverage space types to building flexibility, and to customize and curate success. We need to be in control of the design. Stand up for our design. We need to understand the things that make the space a memorable experience. Have empathy for the client and the space, not sympathy. He concluded his talk by reminding us that our design can change attitudes and how the users treat one another. Your designs have an impact!

Kellie DeVries, Student IIDA, Michigan State University, Michigan Chapter

The Power of a Portfolio Review

Our final day was loaded with panels and speakers, filling my head with very valuable information about stepping out into the world after school successfully. The best part of my day, however, was the portfolio review. After two conversations with a very kind Susan Bellson from JSI she pulled me over and set me up to do my review with Elizabeth Trupiano from Corgan and I got very lucky with that. Elizabeth asked great questions of me, listened intently and gave helpful critiques, and then sat and answered all of my questions until we ran out of time. I loved making friends and connections that I’m sure will last me years.

Chelsea Bainbridge, Student IIDA, Kansas State University, Mid America Chapter


To learn more about IIDA student membership, including professional development and leadership opportunities, visit iida.org.

Up Close with the IIDA Texas Tech University Campus Center

IIDA Campus Center: Texas Tech University

IIDA Chapter: Texas/Oklahoma Chapter

Where: Lubbock, Texas

Number of Student Members: 81

IIDA Campus Centers are the first point of contact interior design students have to IIDA. Each one is unique in design, programming, and initiatives, which makes for a varied student experience across chapters. We want to highlight the diversity of IIDA Student Member experiences by introducing you to a handful of campus centers. From how they run their group to what activities garner the most student interest, here’s what we learned from the IIDA Texas Tech University Campus Center.

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IIDA Student Members at their first member meeting. (Back left to front right) Rachel Carroll, Hayley Richburg, Emily Castleman, Liz Morgan, Emily Garth, Grace Swart, Katelynn Franklund, Anamika Kaewloyma, Sarah Castaneda, Marisa Somsiri, Olivia Oldham, Ryann Flack, Braxton Rutledge, Allison Reinacker, Cara Shoemaker, and Adrian Ibanez

Give us a snapshot of your IIDA Campus Center.

The IIDA Texas Tech Campus Center (IIDA TTU) consists of 50-60 graduate and undergraduate student members. Currently, there are nine elected officer positions: student president, president-elect, treasurer, treasurer-elect, public relations chair, special events chair, special events chair-elect, student mentor and secretary, and student mentor. At the end of each year, officers assess the ever-changing campus center needs and add or remove officer positions. IIDA TTU officers and student members also collaborate heavily with Michelle Pearson, Ph.D., faculty advisor, and IIDA West Texas (IIDA WTX) City Center council members for guidance and support.

Do you work with other organizations or design clubs?

We place a strong emphasis on collaboration with other organizations. We extend invitations to and collaborate with organizations such as the American Society of Interior Designers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, Knights of Architecture, and the Student American Society of Landscape Architecture.

On the annual Arbor Day event, IIDA, ASID, and AIA volunteer together and plant flowers throughout the Texas Tech Campus. Each fall semester, ASID hosts the West Texas Design Expo, and IIDA plays a large role in ensuring this event runs smoothly. In exchange for a free table at the Design Expo, IIDA helps ASID set up and tear down the expo.

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IIDA officers and faculty advisor at the ASID West Texas Design Expo.
(Top photo, left to right) Grace Swart, Bailey Estes, Jasmine Chavez, Ivy Lane, Dr. Michelle Pearson, Sahara Johnson, Hayley Richburg, Yadira Martinez, Laura Thomas, and Kaylee Polasek (Bottom photo, left to right) Kaylee Polasek, Grace Swart, Bailey Estes, Jasmine Chavez, and Laura Thomas

What kind of events and activities do you host at your Campus Center?

We host a variety of activities that are both educational and social in nature. Each event gives members the opportunity to network with IIDA professionals and other local design professionals. We offer events that are multifaceted and engaging such as the IIDA TTU Breakfast Roundtable and an NCIDQ Q&A session with a cupcake bar.

This year, IIDA events include: the IIDA versus ASID Olympics, the IIDA Annual Corn Maize social with interior design professionals, IIDA Student Conference, and a digital media workshop to teach members Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. This year, we’re excited to announce that we will be hosting our first IIDA TTU Annual Career Fair! This is an exciting opportunity for students to get advice on their resumes, portfolios, and potentially schedule interviews.

What are your favorite or most successful events and activities that you host?

The IIDA TTU Breakfast Roundtable is one of our most successful events.  We invite professionals from all over Texas to come have breakfast with the members and a guided discussion about a specific topic. This year’s topic was “Unfiltered Advice for the Soon-to-be-Professional.” This first-hand experience and advice is invaluable. We now know there are a wide variety of career opportunities available within the interior design industry than previously thought!

How do you collaborate with your local chapter?

IIDA TTU collaborates with the local city center by staying in close contact with the campus liaison and other council members. IIDA TTU officers are invited to the IIDA WTX council meetings each month and encouraged to ask for advice, share updates and event ideas, and discuss budgets.

The local city center also does a phenomenal job at making sure student members know they are not excluded from professional events—we are all IIDA members and are welcome to attend any IIDA event.

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IIDA Student Members at the annual Corn Maize Social (Top left to right) Adrian Ibanez, Nicole Byrom, Rachel Carroll, Kristen Chunn, Grace Swart, Bailey Estes, Kaylee Polasek, and Hayley Richburg

How do you get people engaged with your Campus Center and local chapter?

Social media plays a huge role. Each event is advertised through social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). We hang flyers throughout campus and in the Texas Tech Department of Design, and officers make announcements in our classes about upcoming events. We even make special trips to freshman-level classes to ensure they know they are welcome at all events! Occasionally, we have challenges or donated prizes which adds to the fun. We strive to make all events social and educational in nature. It is important that IIDA events are fun and engaging; however, it is also important members gain something that will help them in their professional lives.

What is the biggest benefit of being an IIDA Member and having an active campus center?

Being an IIDA Member opens a channel between students of different ages, creating a dialogue and camaraderie that would not otherwise exist. Students can mentor younger students and encourage them. The relationships fostered within the IIDA TTU Campus Center are relationships that will be further built upon as students move into the professional world. The opportunity to interact with peers in a professional-oriented and social atmosphere is invaluable.


See what the Texas Tech Campus Center is up to by following them on Facebook and Instagram! Visit iida.org to learn more about IIDA Campus Centers. 

From Interior Design Student to Interior Design Professional: 5 Tips to Keep in Mind

You graduated from your interior design program – congratulations! Now it’s time to tackle the next challenge: preparing for your career as a professional designer. This June, IIDA brought together four design industry experts to answer the questions students and recent graduates want answered. Thank you to Stacey Harloe, Ind. IIDA, of OFS Brands, Amy Leigh Hufford, Student IIDA, of NELSON, Hunter Charles Kaiser, IIDA, NCIDQ, of hk+c, and Rebekah L. Matheny, IIDA, of The Ohio State University for sharing their wealth of knowledge, insight, and advice at this year’s Career Bootcamp Panel sponsored by OFS Brands. From what makes a standout portfolio to how to network with the pros, here’s what they had to offer about succeeding in a career in interior design.

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Adopting a “humanistic” approach to solving a problem doesn’t just live in the area of medicine; it’s a significant part of your practice as a designer. Fulfilling a design concept for a client requires as much empathy as it does efficiency. “When the clients talk, they’re telling us the solution,” said Hunter. “We need to extrapolate it.” Be prepared to ask questions like, “What do you want to be able to accomplish in your space?” and “How does the space make you feel?” Use words that your client can understand, not design jargon. Talk less, listen more. Establishing rapport and trust with your client are crucial to maintaining a happy and healthy working relationship.

Tell Me Your Story

Rebekah starts the design process with her clients by asking them their story. “Sometimes, it’s not the client you’re designing for, it’s their customers, it’s their users of the space. How do you communicate the unfolding story in the space?” Understanding your client’s story will guide your design and dig deeper into the underlying goals and objectives. Added Amy, “We’re not designing for now, we’re designing for the future. At NELSON, we ask them, ‘How can we make you start your future now?’ ‘How can we institute change management for your company to make you perform better?’”

Process, Personality, Confidence

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A unique, creative, and diverse portfolio along with a strong skillset show you’re a talented and capable designer. Your personality and ability to describe your process eloquently are what sell you. “You’re going to have to articulate your vision to your clients, so there’s a selling acumen that starts very early for you, and that’s in the interview,” said Stacey. Build your confidence; practice articulating your portfolio as you prepare for job interviews. Come armed with questions, be inquisitive, and have a positive attitude. “Skills can be taught. It’s the thought process that’s most important because you’re bringing your mind set — the way you see and experience the world around you,” said Rebekah.

Share Your Work

Social media has become a natural part of our day. It’s as easy to post pictures of our vacation as it is pictures of our work. For some designers, sharing images of their work has been a real concern – what if someone copies my idea? Stacey embraces that. “When someone copies your idea, that is pretty rewarding. That’s gratification that you did something good, and that idea will become parent to later ideas.” We live in a world of sharing. If you’re doing something that’s well-done and you’re proud of, let people see it and learn from it. Conversely, added Hunter, share your mistakes so we could learn from those too.

Have a Dialogue

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It can be intimidating to approach designers when you want to catch them for a couple of minutes at a networking event or at the end of a talk. Rest assured, many of them know that. “Every designer started at one point too,” said Hunter. To help you break the ice, do a little bit of homework and research the designer before attending the event. What was the last project they worked on that you liked and why? Where did they get their start? Knowing these answers will inform what questions you ask and maybe find some common ground with them. And, quite honestly, sometimes starting the conversation is as simple as a compliment. “Find a way to flatter them,” said Amy.

But dialogue is a two-way street. “It’s also our responsibility [as professional designers] to say hi,” said Rebekah. “We need to make that human connection with you. Let’s shift to a collaborative process. Let’s co-design.”


Check out the IIDA Career Bootcamp page for information about the the Career Bootcamp Panel, interviewing, and networking. We also encourage you to reach out to your local Campus Center leaders for resources and suggestions that meet your needs as an IIDA Student Member. 

 

Up Close with the Kent State University Campus Center

IIDA Campus Center: Kent State University

IIDA Chapter: Ohio Kentucky Chapter

Where: Kent, Ohio

Number of Student Members: 40

IIDA Campus Centers are the first point of contact interior design students have to IIDA. Each one is unique in design, programming, and initiatives, which makes for a varied student experience across chapters. We want to highlight the diversity of IIDA Student Member experiences by introducing you to a handful of campus centers. From how they run their group to what activities garner the most student interest, here is what we learned after sitting down with the IIDA Kent State University Campus Center.

Give us a snapshot of your Campus Center.

Kent State University’s Campus Center is an umbrella organization for interior design students that aims to unite IIDA and ASID. We have about 40 student members within our organization. A majority of these members are aspiring interior designers from the interior design program but the organization is open to all students on campus.

Recently there has been a large push to incorporate architecture students into the group to encourage cross collaboration. We aspire to evolve the organization and remain cutting edge and align with the goals of our school’s architecture college, which focuses heavily on integration and collaboration between programs.

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Do you work with other organizations or design clubs?

We work with other organizations like Alpha Rho Chi (APX), an architecture-based business fraternity on campus, graphic design students, and the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) to create the Design Arts Ball. We have an open relationship with APX and AIAS and join them for meetings, firm crawls, and workshops.

 What kind events and activities do you host at your Campus Center?

We all agree that events that would allow for more collaboration and inclusion for all would best benefit the group. Events and activities include but are not limited to: lunch and learns with professionals, firm tours, software workshops, social networking events, along with volunteer opportunities like Relay for Life, AIA/IIDA Design Awards, and one of our favorites, Zerolandfill.

kent-1-finalWhat are your favorite or most successful events and activities that you host?

Our favorite — and successful event — would have to be Relay for Life. This activity allows students to connect with different organizations around campus, as well as support a great cause. Another successful activity for us is volunteering at Zerolandfill. Our members are a large face of the event in both Akron and Cleveland. We love to help recycle old materials, and [the activity] also allows students to connect with professionals in the area in a less intimidating way. We like to get younger members involved to help ease them into the community.

How do you collaborate with your local chapter?

We are lucky in that our IIDA community is more than willing to engage us in their activities! Our Campus Center presidents are invited to attend monthly meetings with the Akron/Cleveland City Center. They also create fun events for us to interact with other design schools nearby and other professionals — it really brings the whole community together, something for which we feel very grateful for.

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How do you get people engaged with your Campus Center and local chapter?

We have found the key to engagement at the Campus Center level is frequency and variability. Our board has surveyed the group and worked on putting together events that our members ask for. Through our great professionals we are able to remain very connected to the local IIDA Chapter. Our members are able to engage with professionals through volunteer opportunities, local conferences, design charrettes, and networking events. Our board has been extremely happy with what the group has become!

What is the biggest benefit of being an IIDA Member?

We recently had this conversation just before our graduation. As a freshman, you feel so lost and overwhelmed. Joining IIDA early helps you use your time in school to prepare for “the real world.” Our students have the opportunity to create relationships with people in different sides of the industry, giving them the skills and confidence to succeed on their career paths. We believe it is important to have an active IIDA Campus Center not only to educate and inform our students and the general public of the importance of interior design, but to prepare students to be the best, well-rounded designers they can be.


Learn more about IIDA Campus Centers at iida.org