Congratulations to J. Ashley Hawkins the winner of IIDA’s Lloy Hack Essay contest! The contest featured essays written by students reflecting on Students Mentoring Week that IIDA hosted last February. They were asked to describe their mentoring experience and how it will benefit them when pursuing a career.
Lloy Hack was an Interior Designer and IIDA member in Bostonwhose memorial fund was set up in 2002 order to assist young, aspiring Designers. Ashley from Gwinnett Tech in Georgia won a $1000 scholarship for her essay. She shadowed Allison Gerstung, NCIDQ, LEED AP, IIDA a Design professional at Gensler in Atlanta. I had the opportunity to read Ashley’s essay, and ask her a few questions about her experience.
It sounds like you had a ton of exposure to design projects on your mentor day, but which one would you say stuck out above the rest? Why was this valuable and what did you learn from it?
Ashley: Definitely the Coca-Cola project. It’s easy to make assumptions about what the client wants and needs so it’s important to work through a design development process and communicate about every aspect of a project. Often the most important part of that communication process is listening.
As an interior design student, what are your career goals as of now? Are you open to many experiences or is a set concentration your goal?
Ashley: My favorite part of design is space planning. I am interested in commercial design and I like the idea of finding an area of specialization. But I am open to various experiences because my ultimate goal is to enjoy a fulfilling career that suits my personality and utilizes my skills and interests.
Did your own career goals morph at all after your visit? If so, how did they change?
Ashley: I had already begun looking into NCIDQ and LEED certifications but I am more committed to working toward those goals after receiving encouragement from Allison.
What would you tell a fellow Interior Design student who was unsure about the importance of a mentoring experience?
Ashley: Interior Design is a broad field and there are so many areas to learn about. Classroom learning is important but there is no substitute for hands-on experience. During my day at Gensler, I was exposed to types of projects that I might not learn about or participate in otherwise.
Thanks again to Ashley for taking the time to answer these questions, and to all those who took the time to participate in the competition!