Graduating College? IIDA Board Members and Staff Share Career Advice

IIDA wants to help graduates make that all important transition from college to the real world so we’ve polled our IIDA International Board of Directors and IIDA’s Headquarter staff asking them: What single piece of advice do you wish you had heard when you were about to graduate college? Check out their answers.

“Don’t forget the reason you chose this profession in the first place…it can’t be because of the money or the job security or the 9-5 hours. It’s because you are passionate about design. Keep that passion alive throughout your career and continually look for ways to be inspired. Challenge yourself, your colleagues and your clients. Never settle for just okay and make a difference in our built environment.”
– Viveca Bissonnette, FIIDA, Assoc. AIA, CID, LEED AP, Hollander    Design Group

“Interior Design is a people profession. Therefore, we need to start with ourselves to understand how we can use design and our understanding of people to improve the world in which we live.”
– IIDA International President Peter Conant, FIIDA, AIA, LEED AP, Conant Architects

“A business card is not an acceptable form of personal identification. A series of jobs may end up being a career (or not), but the work that you do doesn’t define who you are – but you define the work that you do. And, you should always be able to explain your job to your mother. And she should understand what you do and be able to tell her friends that you are awesome and will someday rescue the planet from disaster and chaos.”
–Cheryl Durst, Hon. FIIDA, LEED AP, CEO and Executive Vice President of IIDA

“Don’t be afraid to fail.”
– Jeanne Fisher, IIDA Senior Director of Marketing and Communications

“Ask for what you want. If you’re looking for a job, ask for one. Informational interviews are great, and you should ask for one of those, but also be sure to ask for a job, should one become available. Ask for other people you should talk to, other places to look. If you have a job, maybe you want a higher starting salary? A review? More hands-on experience? Extra vacation time? Ask and you might receive. Don’t ask, and there’s no chance.”
– Allison Levy, IIDA Senior Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs

“Great Design is a synergistic process with your client, project manager, engineers, contractor, etc. resulting from clear communication (visual and verbal) and is only successful when your CLIENT loves the space and is proud of it.”
– Susanne M. Molina, IIDA, CID, LEED AP, ID+C, Klawiter and Associates

“Be proactive – don’t wait for opportunities to come to you! Put yourself out there, be confident and be proud of your work. Networking is an important part of gaining opportunities, knowledge and inspiration. Every experience will in some way inform where you go and who you are as a designer!”
– Felice Silverman, FIIDA, Silverman Trykowski Associates

“Be Flexible. There are literally dozens or even hundreds of appropriate solutions to every design problem. When a client, a code or code official, a supervisor, another architect or designer, or a contractor present something that forces you to change your design, don’t get angry and act like your design was the only and best solution, because it probably wasn’t. Take it in stride, be flexible, think about it and use it as an opportunity to make your design even better.”
– Jack Weber, IIDA, MCR, LEED AP, Gresham, Smith and Partners

“Happiness will make you wealthy in the long run.”
– Sarah Winchester, IIDA Manager of Chapter Accounting

“I wish someone had clued me in BEFORE I started working that DESIGN is more than the final space – it’s the project experience, the space itself, the impact it has on the occupants, their memories and finally the relationships that result.”
– IIDA President-Elect, Jim Williamson, IIDA, LEED AP, Gensler

Find more tips to jumpstart your career here!

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4 responses to “Graduating College? IIDA Board Members and Staff Share Career Advice

  1. Be inspired and don’t be affraid to create!These I’d tell them.

  2. Ruth Bernal

    Yes, sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of what got us here in the first place. Finding a balance between our passion for design, career goals and real world solutions can sometimes be a juggling act. It’s nice to know that everyone has a different perspective on what makes a successful designer. Thanks to all.
    -Ruth Bernal
    DISD

  3. Ruth Bernal

    Yes, sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of what got us here in the first place. Finding a balance between our passion for design, career goals and real world solutions can sometimes be a juggling act. It’s nice to know that everyone has a different perspective on what makes a successful designer. Thanks to all.
    -Ruth Bernal
    2012 DISD graduate

  4. Pingback: Winner of ASID/IIDA Student Chapter Design Competition « Lindsay Tan Portfolio

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