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.