Advice from a Graduating Senior to an Incoming Freshmen

Student Task Force Member, Andrea, takes a look back at some things she wished she would have known before setting foot into her first interior design class.  Enjoy!

Things To Do

  1. When it comes to your classwork, Do It Now, Do It Now, Do It Now! It will always take longer than you initially think and it’s hard to explain during your project’s presentation that you wish you could have done more but ran out of time.
  2. Freshman year: Start networking at your school and with organizations. It’s good to know people in other classes at school so you can get help from them with classwork or getting a job. If you’re intimidated about going to professional organization meetings, sign up with a friend. Introduce yourself to people around you – most people are willing to help students and making the effort to network will set you apart from your classmates.
  3. Start business card binder – buy a binder and the plastic sheets that hold business cards (available at office supply stores). When you get a new business card, write on the back of the card where and when you met the person so you can reference the info later.
  4. Find a local printer. They’re more flexible and willing to work with you. My shop has a copy of my portfolio on file so I can call an order a copy and they’ll deliver it to me. They even donated the printing of 50 posters for our senior show.
  5. Save every project in a safe, dry place, even if you never want to look at it again. If you don’t, someone will need it.
  6. Sophomore year: Reserve a website address for yourself. I used Reserving the address is relatively inexpensive, about $10 per year. For now, just post a message to the site saying that it will come soon.
  7. Print student business cards, including your name, email address, website address, and graduation date. Consider a non-standard sized card that will get noticed, but don’t make it too small or people will lose it.
  8. Junior year: Build a website on your reserved address, including your portfolio (this can come later, when you’re looking for an internship)

Things To Buy

  1. Unless you’re working in a studio where you buy a desktop, buy a PC laptop. Macs are cool, but it’s difficult to get all the necessary software to work on them. If you have a laptop that works fine, consider keeping it and postponing the new laptop purchase until your junior year (+/-) when you’ll really need the processing speed. By my senior year, some of my classmates were unable to download new software we needed because their computers couldn’t handle more software. And my computer took four times longer than the computer lab computers to complete Revit renderings (and I had twenty-two of them to complete).
  2. Software – Photoshop, SketchUp, AutoCAD, Revit. Photoshop has a student price at websites like You can also check with your college bookstore. SketchUp is free from google. Download it now and start playing with it and impress your professors. AutoCAD and Revit have free student copies available at but don’t download these until you need them – these copies only last 13 months.
  3. Digital camera
  4. Print/Scan/Copier – not much more expensive than a printer, and you’ll be happy that you don’t have to go to the lab/library at 3am to scan your assignment.
  5. Two external hard drives – you need two drives, keep one at your college residence and take one to class with your computer. Back up to the secondary drive as often as possible – depending on how much information you can afford to lose. Sooner or later one of the drives will fail and you’ll be happy you have a backup. Buy two portable external hard drives, not the kind that plug into a power outlet – I’ve seen a classmate freak out when someone walked by, tripped on the cord, and the cord came out of the wall.
  6. is helpful at comparing models of the above technology. It combines ratings from a number of sources, including Consumer Reports and Cnet.
  7. Book – Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. It’s a very helpful book no matter your sketching level and will change the way you look at everything. It’s really helped my sketching. If you don’t possibly know how you’ll find time to use it during the semester (this is probable), do what I did: buy the book and a sketchbook over a long break in classes, skip a page or two in the front of the sketchbook, do the exercises, and you’ll have a start to your sketchbook for the next semester.

Now about that funny feeling you get in your stomach whenever your professor introduces the next project – no, it will never completely go away, but you might even start to like that feeling by the end of four years. Really. Good luck!

Andrea Reordan


Senior Interior Design Student

Texas Christian University

Student Member: IIDA, ASID, USGBC


IIDA Student Task Force 2008-2009

Past Vice President, TCU Interior Design Association


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