IIDA Supports Our Student Members

If you are a design student currently struggling or preparing for your next steps as you graduate in an uncertain time, reach out to IIDA for support. We are your community and we are here to listen and help. 

IIDA is committed to providing educators and students resources, tools, and information during this challenging time. Below is a collection of essentials we think may be helpful as the situation continues to unfold. If you have questions, concerns, or resources to share, please contact Ryan Ben, student engagement and advancement manager, at rben@iida.org

GENERAL INFORMATION

The health and well-being of our members are paramount, so we are asking everyone in the IIDA community to stay apprised of news from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the WHO (World Health Organization).IIDA has collected general information and links on our member resources page, which includes a specific section for students and educators. Links for financial information, creative services and apps, and tools to help facilitate teaching and learning remotely can all be found at that link.

IIDA RESOURCES

We know students and educators use their IIDA membership to enhance their educational journeys, and we are looking forward to continuing to be a resource for this community. If at any point you need help accessing your membership, acquiring your member ID, or updating your membership information, contact students@iida.org directly.

As a reminder, here are some excellent IIDA resources that can be accessed digitally:

  • Your local IIDA Chapter
    While many chapter events and programs have been canceled or postponed, our dedicated volunteers and members are working diligently to stay active in their communities. If you have not already done so, you can find your local IIDA chapter here.

    We also recommend signing up for your local chapter newsletter and to follow your local chapter on social media.
  • Your IIDA peers
    Utilizing your IIDA membership information, you can log into the membership database to connect with members in your area. If you need assistance utilizing this tool or recovering your login information, reach out to students@iida.org.

    If you are a campus center leader or faculty advisor and you need a list of current IIDA Student members at your campus, email Ryan directly.

At the bottom of this page, members will find a list of discounts and affinity programs they can utilize with their IIDA membership.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • Babbel: Currently offering three free months of online language lessons for students.
  • CiscoWebex: Providing free access to assist students and educators.
  • Comcast: Offering free internet for low-income families.
  • Libby: An excellent resource for your local public library.
  • National Emergency Library: Free access to digital books supporting emergency remote teaching, learning, and research, including textbooks. 

IIDA SHIFT Celebrates 20 Years

IIDA’s Texas/Oklahoma Chapter celebrated 20 years of their signature student conference, IIDA SHIFT, in January 2020. The conference brings together students, educators, and industry professionals from across the country for inspiration, education, networking, and to celebrate their future roles as design leaders. The best part of the conference? It’s designed specifically for students, from the programming and events to the Industry Expo and networking focus.


From left to right: Megan Romboletti, Chapter Administrator; Lindsey Torpey, RID, IIDA, SHIFT20 Co-Chair; Laura Guido-Clark, Keynote Speaker; Antonio Holguin, SHIFT20 Co-Chair; Ryan Ben, Student Engagement & Advancement Manager, IIDA Headquarters.
Photo by: DenMark Phan

Thanks to the donations to the IIDA Foundation’s Designing for the Future Campaign, five IIDA Student members receive a scholarship to attend the conference. They have the opportunity to participate in portfolio reviews, workshops, panels, mock interviews, the Industry Expo, and design tours across Dallas. Students attending SHIFT gain valuable practice networking, building industry connections, and learning about the different shapes and paths their careers can take.

Congratulations to our Texas/Oklahoma Chapter on 20 years of impactful programming and their work towards shaping the future of design! We’re so happy to support and engage with SHIFT and are thrilled to share feedback and insights this year from the student attendees themselves.

IIDA Student member scholarship recipients, from left to right: Mindy Morettini, Peiyao Li, Lindsay Bedford, Casey Kelly, and Amy Boldt. Photo by: DenMark Phan

Building a national network of future colleagues

Attending the SHIFT 2020 Conference was an incredible experience that left me feeling motivated and inspired. Coming from Philadelphia to Dallas was exciting, and I enjoyed meeting interior design students from parts of the country I do not often come in contact with. I always love opportunities to expand my network, and it was great meeting students and industry professionals from outside of my region. One of the things I found to be most beneficial were the breakout sessions. I learned about a wide variety of topics, including the NCIDQ, what a day in the life of a design professionals looks like, and how to design with empathy. Overall, it was an amazing few days I will not forget, and I hope to return in 2021!

Lindsay Bedford, Student IIDA, Drexel University

Lindsay Bedford, Student IIDA. Photo by: DenMark Phan

Gaining confidence during the shift from student to industry professional

Attending the SHIFT Conference was the most motivating and inspiring experience I could have had as a recent college graduate. This past fall, I graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a degree in interior design. I was fortunate enough to have been offered a full-time interior designer position at HGA Architects and Engineers upon graduation. This conference was what I needed to begin my new role as an interior designer and transition from being a student to a professional in the industry.

As a first-time attendee, and coming from California, I was excited, nervous, anxious, and ready to learn and network. I enjoyed the tours of the firms and showrooms, as well as the design workshops, business etiquette, and the many other classes I was able to attend. One of my favorite experiences was learning more about ergonomics at the Humanscale showroom. I found myself explaining the correct ergonomic position you should sit in while working at your desk for the rest of the conference and to my family and coworkers when I returned home. As someone who gets nervous while presenting, the mock interview and portfolio review were very beneficial, allowing me to practice speaking to professionals about my projects and experience in a conversational way while receiving valuable feedback.

Networking took place throughout the entire conference, and that’s what I valued the most from this experience. I find networking to be one of the most important tools in the design industry and a skill that takes practice. Having the opportunity to network with inspiring and accomplished design leaders made me so excited to begin my career in such a remarkable industry.

Mindy Morettini, Student IIDA, California State University, Sacramento

Mindy Morettini, Student IIDA, taking part in the mock-interview session.
Photo by: DenMark Phan

Refining skills while immersed in a positive, impactful environment

My time at SHIFT turned out to be an incredibly impactful and engaging learning experience. It challenged me, motivated me, prepared me, and I was surrounded by inspiring, like-minded people. The board members were helpful and organized to the highest degree. I will cherish the experience because it was meant to make me better. Thanks to IIDA, I am inspired to share the genuine intent to advocate for one another in our industry. The workshops were probably my favorite part of the conference. Like the workshops, the mock interviews served to refine our skills in the most positive of ways. I appreciate that.

I do believe that I am on the right track as I complete my BFA in interior design. I am set to graduate with the skill sets in my armory to be an adept interior designer. I feel blessed for this opportunity. Thank you, IIDA.

Casey Kelly, STLCC, Student IIDA, St. Louis Community College

Casey Kelly, Student IIDA touring Cannon Design. Photo by: DenMark Phan

Leaning into interiors

When I started college I was exclusively studying interior architecture. In my sophomore year, I added architecture, and now I’m in my fourth year in the Architecture and Interior Architecture program at Lawrence Technological University (LTU). Going to the SHIFT conference helped me see more possibilities in the interiors field, and helped me discover the difference between architecture and interiors.

At the conference, I was able to attend the student roundtable, tours, workshops, industry expo, and the sessions. As the current President of the LTU Campus Center, I found the student roundtable very beneficial and enjoyed hearing about the kinds of events other schools were hosting. I’m excited to take some of the ideas back to my chapter. I also really enjoyed the industry expo sessions and was able to network with both other students and professionals.

Amy Boldt, Student IIDA, Lawrence Technological University

Amy Boldt, Student IIDA chats with other students at the Industry Expo.
Photo by: DenMark Phan

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

IIDA Student of the Year Sydney Peña: From Graduation to Junior Interior Designer

Sydney Peña, Associate IIDA, the 2019 IIDA Student of the Year, and interior designer at Axis Architecture + Interiors recalls her first month on the job and shares her journey from graduation to the professional world. 

I recently completed three enormous life moments in a matter of a few months—receiving my college diploma, marrying my best friend, and starting my first full-time job—things have been very exciting for me! So exciting, that I wanted to share with future designers a little bit about my journey from graduation, finding my first job, and my first month as a professional designer.

Know what you want, and build a community that can help you get there

I had participated in the IIDA Student Mentoring Program during my last semester at school, and my mentor helped guide me through the different phases of my job search. I decided to look at smaller to mid-sized firms in hopes that a boutique firm would provide different experiences and opportunities than the larger companies I had interned with. I wanted to work on many different kinds of projects and to feel more connected to my community and coworkers. Also very important to me was finding a firm with a culture that felt familial and collaborative and would provide opportunities to grow as a designer.

I found my job through a mutual connection in the industry. Although I didn’t know anyone at the time who worked at Axis Architecture + Interiors, my current firm, a designer I knew in the community did and introduced us. It’s crazy how your network really can open up opportunities.

Today, I am an interior designer at Axis Architecture + Interiors, located in downtown Indianapolis. Axis is a mid-sized commercial architectural design firm that serves civic, corporate, healthcare, housing, industrial, and retail clients.

Stepping into professional life is all about learning and goal-setting

I am on a team of four designers, three of whom are architects. I report to my mentor, who is a senior interior designer, daily, and every week I report to my project manager who is an architect. Since my firm is made up of a few dozen employees, the studio is organized into two large teams made up of different roles, that then break out into different smaller teams based on the needs of a project. Getting to work with people who have different backgrounds than me has been a wonderful learning opportunity.

My first week was all about feeling out the company, the structure, the people, and its leadership. I spent time getting acquainted with the way the firm operates and started familiarizing myself with the scope of the work. I was pulled on a couple of projects, met a ton of people, and had my first client meeting. I attended quite a few lunch-and-learns and set up a time with my manager to go over my short-term and long-term career goals.

During my second week, I dove a bit deeper into everything. With the first two projects I worked on, I got to work directly with the partners of the firm. Getting to collaborate frequently with leadership is a unique opportunity to have as a young designer and makes you feel more comfortable with collaborating, talking, and presenting in front of others—especially with people who are in senior roles.

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Peña accepting her 2019 IIDA Student of the Year Award Photo by: Jordan Fuller

Detail, specify, notate, and repeat

In my third week, I dove even deeper into the projects I was assigned, utilizing Revit quite a bit. I attended an on-site Revit training session and learned new tricks from my mentor to “work smarter, not harder,” which I enjoyed. For the most part, I felt like school had prepared me for the “real world,” but of course real-world projects are more comprehensive than school projects. I realized that school projects left room for things to get swept under the rug, but especially working for an architecture firm, I’ve learned you can’t leave things up for interpretation. Detail, specify, notate, and repeat!

By my fourth week, I felt that I was getting the hang of things, even though I still felt very new. I began to understand what my role was, and what everybody else’s was too. During this first month, I used a lot of trash paper; sketched concepts; took on a lot of “redlines”; pulled finishes; called on reps; created many renderings utilizing Revit, Enscape, and Photoshop; and created presentations to help communicate my design to clients.

IIDA student programs provide growth opportunities during and after school

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “drinking out of a fire hydrant,” that’s essentially what my first month was like. My advice to future designers is to spend your first month absorbing all that you can—be a sponge. Ask a lot of questions, listen, be patient with yourself, and find a person you can confide in as you navigate this new terrain whether it’s a friend, co-worker, or mentor. Write down your goals and keep them visible so you can refer to them as a reminder of where you want to be, and what steps you are taking to get there.

Involve yourself with IIDA while in school (and after!), because it provides you with community and opportunity once you’re out of school. Join this year’s IIDA Student Mentoring Program! You could gain a mentor that can help guide you through landing your first job and act as a valuable connection to the professional design community.

 

 

 

 

IIDA Mentor Spotlight: Onisha Walker

Onisha Walker, Assoc. IIDA, shares her experiences as both a mentee and a mentor with the IIDA Student Mentoring program. 

I participated in the IIDA Student Mentoring Program as both a mentor and a mentee. I was a mentee during my undergraduate and graduate student years, and I’ve been a mentor for the past two years. Being a mentee in the program really helped to inform my education, and I saw it as a valuable part of my overall curriculum. I mentored under a few designers as an undergraduate and with an industry rep during my graduate program. It was an opportunity to get out of the classroom and get experience interacting with real-world professionals and being involved in their day-to-day.

I feel that both designers and design professionals across many different roles can benefit from mentorship. Networking is a huge part of our industry, and mentoring is an easy way to meet up-and-coming designers—and potentially, the people you’re going to work with someday. It can be just as important to connect with students as it is with principals at major design firms.

“It’s very important for me to be a mentor because design students need to see designers of color with varying backgrounds in the industry—representation is important!”

As a mentor, I love learning about the new classes that design students are taking, and what their goals are for when they graduate. It’s a great way to start a dialogue about the realities of life after college, and the “what now” scenarios that almost everyone goes through at some point. I also believe it’s important for me to be a mentor because design students need to see designers of color with varying backgrounds in the industry—representation is important!

I have worked in multiple sectors in New York and North Carolina at A&D firms, and I am now at a furniture dealer and have completed graduate school on top of all of that, which is not something you hear very often when learning about the industry. When I was a student, I did not know of or see any designers that looked like me or took that path that I wanted to take. I decided to use all of my experiences to encourage students as much as I can to make their own path, especially because this industry thrives on new, fresh, and innovative perspectives and ideas.

On a typical day of mentorship, I like to start the day by introducing my students to my colleagues and helping to make them feel welcome. I then usually sit down them down for an informal chat to get to know the students and give them a chance to ask me questions related to design, my job, or anything else they are curious about.

Then I will bring them in on a project that I am working on and talk them through my process. At this point, the questions start to flow and we get a great dialogue going. Input is important, and it matters to make the mentee feel like they are truly living a “day in the life of a designer.”

One of my last mentees was a student that was an IIDA Campus Center President and a part of our local IIDA chapter. We really got to know each other and had some great discussions. She remained a part of the chapter, serving on the board of directors, and is now part of the Communications team of which I currently serve as VP. We work together all the time! It came around full circle, which was really nice to see and reinforced to me just how important nurturing students is to our industry.

Registration for the IIDA Student Mentoring Program is open through January 31, 2020. Learn more about participating. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carving a Career in Design: Lessons Learned from IIDA SHIFT

Thanks to the IIDA Foundation’s Designing for the Future Campaign, five IIDA Student Members from across the U.S. attended IIDA SHIFT, the IIDA Texas Oklahoma Chapter’s Student Conference held in Dallas. This 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. More than a recap of the event, we wanted to know what parts of the experience made an impact on these students as emerging designers: from how to conduct themselves in a portfolio review and in a professional setting with their peers, to finding the motivation to begin a career in design.

Standing Up for Myself

I give credit to the SHIFT Conference for essentially reinforcing and reassuring me of the education path I have chosen. Over the past years, I have constantly been interrogated by my architecture peers, questioning why I had chosen to study interior architecture in addition to architecture. Admittedly, the questions had made me even start to doubt my education path and myself. However, all my concerns and uncertainty dissolved after hearing the keynote by IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl Durst, Hon. FIIDA. I felt as though Cheryl was talking directly to me and promoting me to make my own decisions and not to second guess myself.

While at the conference, I also attended the campus center roundtable, which was particularly beneficial to me as I am the current co-president of the Lawrence Tech University Campus Center. I was able to hear about what is working and not working for other campus centers and gain valuable insight from different perspectives. After hearing about other campus center leaders’ struggles and successes, I felt inspired and poised to return to my campus center and make further improvements to my campus center!

Curtis Bac, Student IIDA, Lawrence Tech University, Michigan Chapter

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IIDA Students kicked off the conference at the SHIFT Pep Rally in Steelcase’s Dallas showroom. Photo: Guillermo Antonio

Looking Through the Lens of a Hiring Manager

Michael Horton and Harry Vicci from CallisonRTKL went through their interview process at their office and how to best prepare for interviews. They gave so many tips on how to present yourself and what kinds of questions to ask the company. It helped me to realize that I just need to be myself and find the perfect fit for me and the company. After going through the mock interview process, I now have an idea of how to conduct myself during a professional interview and what questions to ask as an incoming entry-level designer—once again teaching me how to be calm and confident and let my personality show through. The feedback I was given from my portfolio review helped me to view my projects through the lens of someone in a hiring position.

Jessica Payne, Student IIDA, Belmont University, Tennessee Chapter         

Finding My Community

I’m in the final phase of my interior design and architecture program through UC Berkeley’s extension program and SHIFT was exactly what I needed at this point in my education. School is a safe bubble and as the transition into the “real world” looms before me, it honestly feels a bit daunting. Having the opportunity to meet such a huge range of my peers at SHIFT was truly motivating.

I really enjoyed the firm and showroom tours but my favorite aspect of the day was getting to know the other students. . Learning about their programs, chatting about what aspects of design resonated with us the most, and how each of us came to be on the same path was fun and settling somehow–as though I was finding my community of like-minded individuals. I also enjoyed hearing the work histories of our guides; being able to visualize transitioning from student to the beginning stages of working in the interior design industry was becoming more and more tangible.

Tessa Poppe, Student IIDA, UC Berkeley Extension, Northern California Chapter

Expanding My Network

In the Northeast, with the concentration of a number of major cities, we can become immersed in our own little realm. As a student, I have taken as many opportunities as were made available to me to involve myself in the design community. From a mixture of networking opportunities provided by Jefferson University, IIDA, and my various internships, I have grown familiar with the network in my region. However, I understand that as an emerging design professional, my work and experiences will not be limited to the Northeast as they have been in the past.

The IIDA SHIFT Conference provided me with the opportunity to exchange knowledge and experiences with other students and professionals from across the county—and a much welcome break from the snow in the North! In traveling by myself, I was put in a position where I had to represent myself and my university in a respectful manner without relying on the company of my classmates. I was given the chance to meet with representatives from firms and manufacturers that do not have a Philadelphia office, such as Cannon Design and Perkins+Will. The connections I have made, I hope, will last further into my design career.

Deanna Hagman, Student IIDA, Thomas Jefferson University, Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware Chapter

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SHIFT Pep Rally. Photo: Guillermo Antonio

Connecting with Firms that Inspire

My favorite part of IIDA SHIFT was the design Expo. Here, I was able to network with designers who work at the firms I’ve looked up to for years. It was incredible to hear about their experiences working in the industry and make those connections. The expo has actually led to three interior design interviews!

The last day of the conference, I participated in portfolio reviews, mock interviews, learned about negotiating a salary and experiential graphics. Each workshop left me even more inspired, motivated, and excited to graduate and join this wonderful industry. To finish off the day, we heard from IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl Durst, Hon. FIIDA. By the end of her talk, I was on cloud nine. I was so uplifted and proud to be a part of such a wonderful industry and organization.

Marissa Keller, Student IIDA, Savannah College of Art & Design – Savannah, Georgia Chapter


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

One Interior Design Student’s Success Story: A Timeline

Cultivate your personal brand.  Flex your storytelling skills during the interview. Introduce yourself to one new person at a networking event. While the list of career advice interior design students hear regularly sounds fairly straightforward, in practice, it can be difficult to execute. That’s why we’re excited to share IIDA Member Samantha Wurzbacher’s story, an example of how one designer navigated her way through oft heard insights as a design student and catapulted herself to success early on in her career.

Samantha’s path to interior designer at The Verve Partnership began as an IIDA Student Member attending the IIDA Career Bootcamp Panel at NeoCon East in 2016. The program introduces students, recent graduates, and career shifters to a panel of design industry experts where they share their advice, insight, and expertise on how best to set yourself up for success in the design industry.

While there, Samantha met and connected with students and design professionals whose views aligned with her own. “It was an amazing experience that really opened my eyes to the benefits of IIDA,” she said. One of the people she introduced herself to that day was bootcamp panelist Kelly Ennis, an IIDA Member who joined the association as a third-year design student at Maryland Institute College of Art in 1990. Today, Kelly is founding principal of The Verve Partnership, a design and strategy firm based in Baltimore, Maryland.

November 2016: IIDA Career Bootcamp Panel at NeoCon East

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IIDA: Samantha, what was your big takeaway from the event?

Samantha Wurzbacher: I remember [Kelly] being surrounded by three or four students that were all trying to make an impression and I knew I wouldn’t have much time to do the same. I waited for a break in the conversation, immediately introduced myself, mentioned that I was looking for a position in the Baltimore area, and handed her a business card. The next day I looked up Kelly on LinkedIn and sent a message to connect.

IIDA: Kelly, did Samantha make an impression on you during the event?

Kelly Ennis: Sam was impressive because she marched right up to the stage, had a good presence, and gave me a business card. I kept it on my desk as a reminder that ­– when our then existing intern, Shelby, left ­– Sam would be the first person I reach out to.

March 2017: The Internship

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We create human centered design for the built environment. We study people, place and are driven to design space to maximize impact and experience with and for unique cultures, imbued with brand.

-The Verve Partnership mission statement

IIDA: What drew you to The Verve Partnership?

SW: Two months after my LinkedIn message, Kelly responded with an invitation to apply for an internship position at The Verve. I loved the projects the firm was working on, but what really sold me was the mission statement. It instantly resonated and cemented my desire to work for the company. The position was 30 minutes further away from my house and a small pay decrease, but with it came the opportunity to work in the corporate design field and mentor under Kelly. It was one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made.

IIDA: Did you do anything to enhance your personal brand prior to interviewing?

SW: While I was a student, I placed a small order for business cards from an online company. They were square, said “Hello” on the back, and made from recycled cotton t-shirts. Thanks to their irregular size, my cards stood out from the rest and became a conversation starter. In addition, following up with a connection is also important. After interviewing for the internship position, I hand wrote Kelly a note thanking her for the opportunity. I was so excited and hopeful that I took a picture to remember it!

October 2017: The Job Offer and the First Few Weeks

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Once I started working on drawings, I understood how much more I had to learn about construction documents. Kelly suggested I look at past projects in my spare time to become familiar with the level of detail required to meet The Verve’s standards.

-Samantha

IIDA: Samantha, what made you successful early on at Verve?

SW: Right around the time I was hired as a part-time designer, the firm decided to switch from AutoCAD to Revit. I had always wanted to learn the program, but the course wasn’t offered at my school, so it was a little intimidating. I signed up for a Lynda account and spent every day learning all I could about Revit. Afterhours training was later offered at work and I participated in that as well.

IIDA: Kelly, what made Samantha someone you had to keep at Verve?

KE: Sam took control of our library, researched an online platform, executed and really helped us understand our needs. There was never a thought not to keep her.

IIDA: What other qualities helped Samantha stand out?

KE: I really believe that younger designers should be exposed to as much as possible and as quickly as possible. Sam joined both me and one of our senior design principals at a design presentation. While waiting, we were small talking around the table and one of my consultants mentioned this 1984 MK1 Red VW Rabbit restoration at a car show in Vegas. I have a VW Rabbit and am a VW brand crazy person, however Sam’s husband was actually part of the restoration and the conversation continued from there.

The takeaways from witnessing this conversation:

  • Sam was able to carry on an independent conversation in front of a client with a consultant she had never met. This would intimidate most but she jumped right in.
  • This effort built trust with me pretty quickly because from there I knew I could send her to a networking event and she’d be able to hold her own.
  • Applying knowledge of running a business in her “past life” and understanding the intricacies of how an interior of a car can be reupholstered and redesigned has put Samantha in a special place in all of our hearts here at The Verve Partnership.
  • Also, having a woman in the office who knows more about cars than most men is pretty cool.

IIDA student membership provides opportunities to network and connect with other design students and successful professionals in the interior design community. See the other benefits of being an IIDA Student Member.