Interior design is not a job. It is not something you leave behind when you go home at night. Design is a passion, a switch in your brain that is constantly on. The movies you watch, the places you dine, wherever you go — you are touching, feeling, thinking and exploring environments using your designer’s perspective to take it all in. The decision to enter the interior design profession is a commitment to the bigger picture, and a career in design is a journey to find professional success and personal happiness.
Preparing for the Journey
When you set out on a journey, a road trip for example, you need to know where you are going and how to get there. The where is the goal, and the how is the strategy. However, if you don’t truly understand who you are and what you want, then you may have a hard time deciding where you want to go. This preparation is about developing your personal brand, which will be the vehicle for your journey. In our book, The Brand of You, we explain just how important it is to have a personal identity:
“We believe having a consistent Brand of You is the new way to achieve a sense of security. Don’t let your place of employment define you. Learn what you can, be committed and be honest about your long term goals, but at the same time, never lose sight of who you are and what you bring to the table.”
The Fuel and the Factors
As you embark on your career journey, you need to think about what to pack: What do you need to get where you want to go? We like to refer to these as The Fuel and The Factors. Your education, your creativity and your passion for design are the essential items to supply yourself with. But even with these items on hand, life will present you with the unexpected, so you need to be prepared and open to change. Even the best packers can’t anticipate everything, so be ready to embrace necessary changes and detours along the way.
People You Meet Along the Way
Though we believe in the great value of your education and work experience, we can’t forget about the people you will meet on this journey. In such an interconnected industry, who you know matters just as much (if not more) than what you know. As we write in our book:
“People make careers possible. People hire people. People train people. People buy from people.… Connecting with the right people is part of a strategic approach to career development.”
You Are Never Finished
If you are a homeowner, you know this feeling very well. You are never really done making improvements to your house — fixing, replacing, and upgrading. Similarly, your career journey and the path you take will never be finished. What you thought you wanted to do when you graduated is seldom what you end up doing several years into your career. If anything is constant in this industry, it’s change. You can count on it.
“The process of self-analysis, brand development and strategic career development is never finished. You will find yourself going through these steps again and again. And you have to be ok with it.”
In January 2013, we set out on a journey of our own. Together we decided to write a book to help students, as well as emerging and seasoned professionals, manage unexpected changes by taking a strategic approach to their career development. We share a great deal of passion for interior design, and we also love to help people. After 18 months of hard work and commitment, our book on personal branding, networking and strategic career development for interior designers has been finished and is expected to be published very soon.
A career in interior design is demanding and extremely rewarding. It requires your full commitment. You will have a lot of fun, meet fascinating people and make wonderful memories. If your whole heart is in it, anything is possible.
Aga Artka, Allied ASID, LEED AP, is an interior designer, blogger, entrepreneur, and mentor. Jenny Schrank, Allied ASID, is a writer, connector, mentor, and marketing agent. They work together to educate and motivate design professionals to take charge of their lives and to build careers of their dreams. Sign up for their newsletter to stay up to date on The Brand of You book news, availability, and promotional events.