contributed by Corinn Harms [universal design & research connoisseur / recent graduate / x-treme crafter]
Many students do not realize that the diploma they are handed on graduation day is not a magic wand and does not automatically transform one into a professional. It is my personal belief that the road to promoting oneself and future career starts by becoming an advocate for the Interior Design profession, which not only entails educating your fellow students, family and friends, but also your local and state governmental leaders.
Educate Your Fellow Students
Interior designers are not born, but created. This is why it is vital from the very developmental days of your education to be involved and open your eyes to the world around you. This starts by communicating with your classmates the importance of membership in a student professional organization, as it provides an instant connection to the industry in which you will soon be working.
During my time in school, I held terms as SUNY Buffalo State College ASID Student Chapter President and the Student Representative to the Board for the Upstate New York / Canada East Chapter of ASID. ASID membership provided me vast opportunities that I would have never had otherwise, and I worked hard to communicate these benefits to other interior design students. Promotional power points, student career days and mentoring are avenues to promote membership on any college campus, and these ideas also work to promote professional development and networking.
Educate Your Community
By talking with your family and friends about what interior designers really do, you are already an advocate for your profession. However, you can take this message even further by making your voice heard on your very own school campus! By hosting an Interior Design Student Show, students have the opportunity to promote themselves and the profession. Our profession can gain so much more respect with visibility as you showcase your talent, passion and hard work.
Advocating for your future profession can work hand in hand with giving back to your community as well. The communication between your neighborhood and ASID Student Chapter allows for hands on “client” experience enforcing professionalism and the good feeling you will get knowing that you have made a difference. This positive impact will also be seen and respected by those around you.
Educate Your Leaders
Legislation is the backbone to advocating your profession. Protecting your right to practice is not just a small thing that can be checked off your to-do list. This is a nationwide effort to promote and protect the health, safety and welfare of the individuals who use the spaces we will design. Start today by writing a letter to your legislators. Don’t just write one letter – keep it going! Meet with your leaders, invite them to your student show and make them aware of the positive things you are doing in your community!
Don’t Wait On The World To Change
Being an advocate for the interior design profession is up to you. You can’t wait for the world to change, you have to go out and change the world!
Note: A version of this article first appeared in the Fall 2007 issue of the ASID National Student Magazine, ACCESS.