The Education Community Responds to Change: The Conversation Continued

On April 9, IIDA hosted Design Online: The Education Community Responds to Change, the third episode in our Collective (D)esign webinar series of interactive community discussions. This conversation, hosted by IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon FIIDA, and moderated by Ryan Ben, IIDA’s student engagement and advancement manager, featured a panel of educators and students centering on the changing education and employment landscape.

Panelists fielded questions from our audience covering everything from internships and altering educational programs to balancing an increased need for mental and physical health and contributing to community aid. This webinar was attended by close to 1,000 members of the international interior design community who submitted dozens of questions, many of which could not be addressed due to time constraints.

In an effort to expand the conversation, we’ve compiled answers to additional questions, alongside highlights from this discussion from panelists Tyler Hatton, Student IIDA, The Ohio State University campus center co-leader, Ohio/Kentucky Chapter; Rebekah Matheny, IIDA, assistant professor of interior design, Department of Design, The Ohio State University; Jon Otis, IIDA, founder and principal, Object Agency (OlA), professor, Pratt Institute; and Meghan Webster, AIA, principal and global education practice area leader, Gensler. 

What can firms do right now to help engage students?

Jon Otis, IIDA, founder and principal,Object Agency (OlA), professor, Pratt Institute

Jon Otis: Firms must try and consider how to engage graduates or interns and allow them to do something—paid or unpaid. Provide them an experience of some type so that they learn and grow and will be better prepared for eventual employment. Perhaps there is a new model,which refers to the past ‘atelier’ concept; or a new ‘virtual’ model of engagement.

Tyler Hatton: Take the time to view the senior showcase work from schools in your region, reach out to the students and ask questions if you are curious, or maybe offer opportunities for insight and critique. Many schools will probably switch to digital exhibitions as The Ohio State Department of Design has, but the students are not getting the professional connections and feedback as they normally would from the experience. 

You can set up virtual coffee chats with students so they can build interview and communication skills, as well as build their firm and industry professional networks, to prepare for opportunities that may arise in the future.

How do we maintain community at our schools and campus centers?

Tyler Hatton: Through social media channels or other virtual platforms, offer a summer design competition after the semesters’ work is finished that would be either open to all students or be specific in nature to recent graduates. You can also host a virtual book club related to design or put on mini design skill challenges like hand sketching or rendering.

Tyler Hatton, Student IIDA, The Ohio State University campus center co-leader

How do I find a job or internship?

Rebekah Matheny: I would first start by reaching out to your undergraduate advisor, they are often the main point person for companies interested in an internship. Our advisor posts all inquiries to our Slack channel. I would then email your professor mentor, who often have professional contacts that they can reach out to for a more targeted search. I also think your local manufacturer’s reps are a great resource, they know all the design firms and often have a pulse on who’s searching. Also check your IIDA chapter’s website, most sites have an internship or job search section. 

What skills do I need as a graduating interior designer for this virtual world?

Rebekah Matheny: Communication is key! Both verbal and visual. As professionals, we often send presentation decks to clients before walking them through the information over a conference call. Making sure that you have clear graphic communication that uses a combination of the written word, drawings, diagrams, or tags explaining the conceptual ideas or design strategy is important. Think of this as storytelling and the more you can visually narrate in a clear sequence the easier it is to digest and comprehend. Through telecommuting, you will be able to connect with people all over the world who are in different time zones and speak different languages, so you should allow people to see and even translate the information prior to the verbal presentation over the call becomes more important. 

Working to develop your visual storytelling and communication is a much-needed skill and can be demonstrated through your portfolio as well as your studio project presentations. With that, verbal communication is also critical. So practice your speaking ability as you want to come across as comfortable, confident, and knowledgeable. Presenting virtually is a bit different since you are unable to “read the room” as you typically would, make sure to leave time to pause to let people catch up and also check in with them to make sure they don’t have any questions throughout the conversation. 

What educational experiences should I seek out to supplement my education?

Rebekah Matheny, IIDA, assistant professor of interior design

Rebekah Matheny: Competitions—look at competitions, current or past, as these will help expand your portfolio and give you a chance to keep your mind and skills sharp. IIDA, IDEC, Steelcase, RDI, PAVE—there are many options to choose from. You can also use this time to work on your portfolio, either in creating it or expanding it. You can go back and add to or improve past projects. Or you can give yourself a weekly challenge, like doing one new rendering a week. This not only helps improve and expand your skills, but could become a feature in your portfolio. There are a lot of YouTube skill tutorial videos that you could use to help with this. You could also create your own project assignment, maybe fill the gap of an area you’ve not worked on. For example, maybe you’ve not done a restaurant or a hospitality project, but are interested in doing that professionally. You can create your own prompt and give yourself a time frame to complete it. 

What educational experiences should I seek out to supplement my education?

Rebekah Matheny: Seek out continuing education as well.  Many manufacturers are offering CEU’s, which is a great way to extend your education beyond the classroom, learning the same information as many professionals. I know the IIDA Ohio/Kentucky Chapter is also doing a series of benefactor CEU’s, this is a great way to get connected to your local professions and manufacturers while also extending your education.

I also recommend reading, this situation affords you the opportunity to read books that you might not otherwise have the time for. For example, if you want to expand your understanding of sustainability you might like Cradle to Cradle by McDonough and Braungart, Biomimicry by Benyus, The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability—Designing for Abundance also by McDonough, or Fashion and Sustainability by Fletcher and Grose. You could also look and see what classes are offered at your university this summer. 

What resources are available to students and educators from associations, firms, vendors, manufacturers, etc.?

Meghan Webster: Rebekah’s point that the global situation has amplified the disparity across the socio-economic and cultural backgrounds of students was spot-on and seemed to resonate deeply with the audience. The Learning from Home component of our Education Engagement Index Survey that we’ve developed is based on this research around diverse learning styles and contexts, underscoring that if we design for all learners (instead of a mythical average), we design for everyone in between. 

The conversation posed some salient questions around what we can apply to future design for learning and working environments based on this abrupt transition to the virtual world. In the wake of the global pandemic, we released this piece that examined this topic as we’re currently experiencing it, and this piece poses a similar question as we look at the much longer term. The immediate situation is forcing us to learn tools and new forms of behavior quickly, and the more we all can gain literacy in this arena, the faster we will be ready for what comes next.

Meghan Webster, AIA, principal and global education practice area leader, Gensler

What is the best advice for new graduates looking for employment with incredible uncertainty?

Rebekah Matheny: First, know that this is temporary, this too shall pass, and we will bounce back. Secondly, know that every experience contributes towards your career development and your personal development. You may have an ideal career path that you had charted out, and right now you may have to take a detour, take a position in an area of practice that wasn’t your first choice, but that experience can be a great stepping stone, add to your skill and knowledge set, and it will lead you back to where you wanted to head. Or maybe it will reveal something new about yourself and set you on a new, and possibly better trajectory. As designers, experiences are cumulative, and every experience is valuable—even if it’s not a “designer” experience — after all, we are designers for and with people.

So let’s say you find a temporary job at a grocery store since that’s in high demand during this pandemic. This will allow you to understand what it’s like to be a worker in that environment, and could lead you to be a more empathetic retail designer in the future. It’s all about how you look at the experiences you are gaining.

Should students still look for fall internships, or wait until the pandemic clears?

Rebekah Matheny: It never hurts to inquire, so I would certainly be reaching out to firms that you are interested in. It’s a great opportunity to establish a connection and to keep the line of communication going. You can express your concern for how the pandemic is impacting the industry and the world, and use this as an opportunity to ask specific questions about how it is impacting their work, their area of practice, and how designers are tackling this issue.

How do you deal with the multiple hand drawn iterations of ideas when learning online?

Jon Otis: My graduate design studio has been more challenging, and no matter what we resolve, it is unlikely to change my belief that working on paper—marking-up, designing, sketching, pin-ups and seeing design at a larger scale off-screen—is better. Then of course there are maquettes, models, materials, textiles and those tactile elements that exponentially enhance the design learning process. That is a vitally missing part of what we do.

Do you think universities will be open starting in the fall?

Rebekah Matheny: I am hopeful that they will! But with all things, I like to hope for the best but plan for the contingency. I, and I’m sure many professors, will be using the summer to develop a plan for teaching on-ground and on-line. It’s a possibility that we may start the semester and then have to shift to virtual later if a second wave of the pandemic hits before there is a vaccine. No matter what, I will be evaluating what worked, what didn’t, and what could be improved from this past experience and looking for ways to bring the best of the experience into my on-ground instruction and seeing innovative ways to bring on-ground experiences into the virtual world.

What do I do about anxiety?

Rebekah Matheny: Mental health is an important issue we are all facing right now. This situation is causing a lot of new stressors we didn’t face before. The stress from the pandemic itself is compounded for many students by the stress of displacement, new working environments, loss of income, removal from their support system of peers and professors, etc. I would begin by looking into what resources your university offers. They may have online tools to help manage stress and anxiety, hotlines that you can call, and/or virtual workshops to help guide students through this. Personally, I would establish a routine that balances your workload with your mental health. This might mean carving out time for yoga or on-line workout classes, taking a nature walk, meditation and breathing exercises, or even just ensuring you get up from your desk every hour or two to stretch and briefly get a change of scenery. Working these actions into your day will also help with the mental and physical toll that being at your desk and in front of your computer all day causes. Having these moments at a dedicated time each day will help you have a rhythm, give you something to look forward to, and also make your mental and physical health a priority.

You can watch the full conversation, and the rest of our Collective D(esign) series here.

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’ve compiled a list of resources for students and educators here.

Collective D(esign): Design Online; The Education Community Responds to Change

In response to our rapidly changing world, IIDA brings you a design-focused dialogue on the effects of a global crisis. Watch the third webinar in the series today. 

IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon FIIDA, and Ryan Ben, IIDA’s student engagement and advancement manager hosted a panel of educators and students for this important community discussion focused on design education and career planning during a time of transition. The conversation focused on how have personal priorities shifted, how are educators and professionals identifying the best ways to support students and soon-to-be graduates, and how are students adjusting to the drastically changing educational and employment landscape.

Hear panelists discuss ways to continue personal and professional development as we shelter in place; what internships will look like; how to maintain community; and how to ask for help or offer it.

This webinar is registered for 1 IDCEC HSW CEU. To learn how to earn your CEU credit, visit IIDA.org for more information.

Key takeaways include:

  • Taking care of your mental, emotional, and physical health can be your top priority—you’ll be better prepared to care for others and design.
  • Lean into community. Show up to virtual events, programs, webinars, and virtual socializing and continue to develop and maintain meaningful relationships.
  • Leverage virtual tools and programs in the classroom so they can be used at any time. You may have to re-think your curriculum as an educator, and use a variety of apps to communicate and share new ideas in an inclusive way.
  • Meet students where they are at to connect them with the information that they need. Firms and professionals should continue to work with students and educators, offering opportunities for enrichment and mentoring.
  • Professionals and students alike can continue to learn and develop their careers by studying for the NCIDQ and WELL exams.
  • Now is the time for service—think beyond design, connect the dots to the current need, and explore ways you can best contribute.

Watch all the webinars in the series here.

Moderators:

Cheryl S. Durst, Hon FIIDA
IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO
IIDA

Ryan Ben
Student Engagement and Advancement Manager
IIDA

Panelists:

Tyler Hatton, Student IIDA
The Ohio State University
Campus Center Co-Leader
Ohio/Kentucky Chapter

Rebekah Matheny, IIDA
Assistant Professor of Interior Design, Department of Design
The Ohio State University

Jon Otis, IIDA
Founder and Principal, Object Agency (OlA)
Professor, Pratt Institute

Meghan Webster, AIA
Principal and Global Education Practice Area Leader
Gensler

The next webinar in the series, Human Resources: The New Normal and Opportunity will take place on April 16, 2020, 1:30-2:30 p.m. Central. Register today.

Join IIDA for a discussion on the pandemic’s short and long-term effects on talent and the impact on human resources within the design industry.

Virtual Mentorship, Meetings, and Interview Tips for Students

The spring semester is often an important and demanding time for students as they prepare to secure summer internships, get ready for graduation, and navigate job interviews. For IIDA Student members, it’s also an opportunity to participate in the IIDA Student Mentoring Program.

This year, on top of the quick transition to virtual and online learning, students must also navigate the possibility of entering the workforce remotely. While being flexible with change and uncertainty can be disorienting, it can also be a useful exercise in adaptability and resiliency that are crucial skills for any interior designer.

We’ve updated our IIDA Student Mentoring Guides for mentees and students to reflect virtual mentoring sessions and tips for how to maximize the experience. For entering the professional world and connecting virtually beyond academia, we’ve also gathered some tips and best practices to ensure that you feel confident and prepared moving forward with your meetings, networking, and interviews.

Plan

When you arrange a virtual interview or meeting, whether it’s a job interview, informational interview, or mentorship session, setting yourself up for success is key. Preparation will help you look and feel confident.

Once you have a date, time, and method set, test your technology. Have you used the program or app that your contact has chosen before? Do a test run, paying attention to your audio and video quality. Test your camera out and if you have a headset with a mic use it so that you can better hear and be heard.

Find a space where you can focus and create your own ‘studio’ to avoid distractions from your housemates or your pets. Position yourself in front of a neutral wall or background with your light source facing you. If you’re using your laptop or phone, set them up on a stack of books or another stable surface so that the camera is at about eye level and make sure that your head and shoulders are visible. 

Prepare your talking points and any visual presentations that you may have ahead of time. If you’ll be sharing your screen, make sure that the only apps and files you have open on your computer and visible on your desktop are relevant to the conversation. 

Execute

Before your meeting, make sure that your space and technology are set up, and that you’ll have the space to yourself for the amount of time that you’ll need it. Have your resume available, and gather the tools necessary to take notes.

Prepare yourself by taking a short brisk walk to get your blood flowing and your mind activated so that you’ll sound and feel more engaged in the conversation. You will also want to dress how you would if you were meeting in person so that you feel put together and project professionalism. 

Turn your phone off and put it away so that you can fully focus on the conversation at hand—if you’re using your phone, be sure to mute any notifications. Similarly, turn off any sound or visual notifications on your computer that may distract you from the discussion.

Reflect

When the conversation, interview, or meeting is over, be sure to reflect on what was covered and identify any opportunities that you noticed. You’ll want to send a thank-you note within 24 hours, but allow yourself enough time to identify any lingering questions or comments you may have. If the situation is appropriate to schedule a follow-up conversation or connect on LinkedIn, you should do so within 24 hours.

This is a challenging time for everyone, so remember to be gentle with yourself and patient with others. A great follow-up to an interview is a phone call to a friend or family member so that you can discuss your successes, and consider ways to adjust and or improve for next time. It’s important to reach out to your community to keep you grounded, especially when you may be feeling socially disconnected. 

Our comments are open below. If you have any questions or comments on this topic or other topics that you’d like to see from us, let us know!

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 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 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.

SOYSydneyGunty

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.

 

 

 

 

COMPETITION NEWS

IIDA Announces Best of Asia Pacific Category Winners

Last week, IIDA announced the category winners of its inaugural Best of Asia Pacific Design Awards Competition. The competition seeks to recognize and honor the highest level of creativity and design excellence in Interior Design/Architecture in the Asia Pacific region. The winning projects will be honored and celebrated at an awards reception at the Conrad Centennial Singapore Hotel on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, where the Best of Competition winner will be announced. For a look at the category winners, visit the Best of Asia Pacific image gallery online here.

Save the Date: Student Sustainable Design Competition

Student Members are advised to keep Oct. 1, 2013, in mind as the opening date of the 2013 Student Sustainable Design Competition. The competition celebrates original sustainable design and rewards students whose projects demonstrate consistent, creative sustainable principles, and is an excellent opportunity for emerging professionals to raise their profiles for their innovative and fresh ideas. Cash prizes will be awarded, with the winner receiving $1,500 and the runner-up $1,000. A People’s Choice award will also be designated, with that winner receiving an Apple iPad and a free one-year IIDA Membership. The 2013 Student Sustainable Design Competition is sponsored by Interface.

For more information and to learn how to enter, visit the competition site here.