This post won’t tell you about interior decor or layout, today I will tell you how to become an interior designer. Even better, I will share my experience of how I became one.
Choose a course
This is the most important part, you must be careful when choosing the university you plan to study at. Do a good research, try to contact people who are studying or already graduated from the course. Ask them how do they feel, what are they learning about and what projects they get to do. Of course take each word with a grain of salt, it is everyone’s personal experience after all. I know there are people in my course who hated it and then there are those who loved it. Definitely read the university rankings, you want to study in a good course and receive a diploma you can be proud of.
Prepare your portfolio
Building your portfolio might be a long task, but I want to make it clear IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT. All of us want to show how good we are, that we do everything perfectly and this idea was holding me back for years… I even ended up studying tourism which I was never really passionate about… So don’t hold back! Put absolutely everything there, in portfolio you must show your diversity. Put your artsy experiments, raw sketches, photography attempts, images of crafts you have done, drawings – the ones you are proud of and not so much. Showing different media also helps, if you know how to use Photoshop or any other programs make some collages or mood boards. Be creative and remember it is not about being perfect it is about showing your passion, creativity and dedication.
Write a cover letter
Cover letter is a way to show how passionate you are and how much you want to get into the course. Here you should talk about your journey to this degree, when did you realised that you want to be an interior designer. Be passionate and don’t hold back, speak from your heart, what emotions interiors evoke in you, what details you pay attention to, have you seen any significant ones which you cant forget? Do not forget to mention any other life experiences which you think could add on to show your dedication towards academic life. In my case I also wrote about my previous studies and how they made me realise what i really want to study – what I am trying to say here is that sometimes even bad experiences can lead you to positive outcomes.
Secret ingredient – work experience
The best edition to your cover letter and later on CV is the work experience in interior design or architectural practice. There are many benefits to this, firstly you will get a real chance to see how such an office functions, what it is like. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions, it is an opportunity to get intel from professionals, who do this for a living. There is no one else better to get advice from. This actually also may show you that this is not the right path for your career, which is much better to find out sooner rather than later. Secondly it will very much help to build your portfolio when getting ready for your university application as well as be a big part of your cover letter, your arguments will be stronger because you already had first hand experience. And most importantly – in the future when looking for a job in your CV it will show your future employer that you are really dedicated person with a lot of ambition from early days, not mentioning that you will already have a relationship with the company you had your work experience or internship with and they will definitely take their time to have a look at your job application. So get out here, look for programmes which help high school students get a placement or go even bolder – apply by yourself!
Studies in a university – what to expect
This could actually be an article on its own so I will sum it up in a few words. The first year might not be exactly what you expected, you won’t be doing interiors straight away. It is more about getting to know the university standards, meeting deadlines and to encourage your creativity. Most likely there will be only some hints of interior design in the first year rather than a proper full on course. However, things will significantly change from second year onwards!
Job prospects after graduating
This is where it gets tricky. After graduating you will have a diploma, which will open up a completely new world for you. With interior design degree there are loads of options what you can do. One, when graduated, can be an interior designer in either commercial or domestic interiors, you can also work as a retail designer who designs shops, hospitality interior designer who creates restaurants or hotels or you can be furniture designer if you wish so. These are the ones that mostly overlap, you will find yourself creating bespoke furniture constantly, furthermore one client will want you to do a shop, the other a restaurant… It is really a versatile career – no two days are the same. There are also a bit more niche career choices such as bathroom or kitchen designers, those usually work in a retail showroom and help with mostly residential interiors. I believe that after gaining some experience working for someone else, there is always a way to go and work as a freelance interior designer or an interior decorator. But I would strongly recommend to learn from professionals before striking out on our own. There are many other options too, you will be getting a degree in arts, so sky’s the limit when looking for right path for you. Think what you are passionate about!
How to stand out when looking for a job
This is the scary part, but I have a couple of short advices. Make sure your CV and portfolio are creative and matching. Use good quality materials, invest in your portfolio binder it is something that people will touch and feel in your interview. There are many good examples of those online and advices on how to make your CV stand out. Think about sending a creative introduction video when applying! That would definitely stand out! Again loads of good examples of this online. When you are in an interview be confident, talk about important design decisions you have made and remember that nobody else knows your projects better than you! Be friendly, relaxed and smile! Treat it as a conversation – there is nothing you have to lose so try and enjoy it. Even if you wouldn’t get the position, although it will suck try to see it as a positive experience, it will make you better next time!
Money money money
Pay is the most controversial topic probably in any career. There is no average number, the gap is huge. Everyone mostly start with a standard beginners wage which is similar to other degrees. After this – it is all in your hands, how fast and how much you will earn… This is tricky and is very individual for everyone… There are interior designers who are millionaires! It is all about hard work and million other circumstances.
Recently I received most of above questions about my career from a girl who wants to apply for this university course and it inspired me to put all of my thoughts into this post. Hopefully it will be useful for more of you.