WANTED: One outstanding opportunity
Wouldn’t it be great if you could post something like the title of this entry: “Wanted: One outstanding opportunity” and someone or something would actually contact you? That would be so easy for a company to come looking for you - wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, in this day and age that’s just not how it happens. You have to kind of toss your net into the waves of jobs and see what it gathers. Such is the case with me.
Who wouldn't want to work here? Picture of Jay Jeffers Interior Design Office in San Fran, courtesy Coco+Kelley blog
Now for those of you who do not know me well, you may not know that there is a crazy busy side of me. I mean a side that prefers to be busy more than anything else. In the shipping/warehouse world, a company wants to make sure that the employees don’t have too much downtime in between packing boxes or else they lose a lot of productivity. Now, I’m definitely NOT in the warehouse world (heaven forbid) but I do follow along those same lines of too much time = too much loss of productivity. Blame it on my mid-west work ethic. Blame it on my days with Andersen Consulting. Whatever the reason, I love to be busy!
A few weeks ago, I saw an intern opportunity posted on my university’s website. Now, I wasn’t looking for a job, mind you, since I have the best job in the world as mom to my two handsome boys and wife to my adoring hubbie BUT since I had recently updated my resume, I figured what the heck and submitted it with eyes closed. The job sounded awesome and exactly like something that would provide invaluable experience to my fledgling career choice. The potential dream job.
Part-Time interior design intern to serve in a support role to our designers. The majority of our work is high-end residential and hospitality (restaurants). Candidates MUST BE: responsible and reliable, very organized, detail-oriented, excellent written and verbal communication skills, proficient in AutoCAD, proficient in MS Office Suite. Dallas, TX.
The firm contacted me for an interview and I couldn't believe it! I went into research mode...or more like dream mode.
So what is that is so unique about this position? It involves working for a design firm in Dallas that does high end residential and hospitality projects. The lead designer previously worked for Wilson&Associates (a premier design consulting group). Recent works for the for include some high-end homes and restaurants in the Dallas area.
In my efforts to research the firm, which was minimal since it was so new, I stumbled upon a recent restaurant article in which this firm was recognized. Being that I love to eat and being that I love to go out without kids, I booked a reservation for hubbie and I at the aforementioned eating establishment. The food was an absolute delicacy! Decor was tremendous AND we even got the chance to chat with Executive Chef Stephan Pyles. Stephan Pyles - Texas legend!! Chef Pyles was quick to compliment the interior design of the restaurant. In fact, he loved it so much that he asked the designer to do his house! Seriously? Pinch me.
The interview was formal and to the point, conducted by two ladies in their small studio off Knox/Henderson. I was told off the bat that they normally don’t even consider someone like me with such little experience and a newbie in design school, but since I did have some experience I guess I wasn’t such a risk after all. I was happy to have some work to show them and felt like I answered all of their questions to the best of my ability. At one point, I even asked for input about my work and ways to improve. (That must have been the sinker...) As I walked out the door a short 25 minutes later, I wondered who would be getting the gig.
I started wishing I had never seen the posting. I was literally salivating once my heels hit the pavement outside their offices. I WANTED THIS J-O-B! Apparently, so did everyone else in my field, including the one who got it.
A week later, I was again left wondering why I had even applied for the internship. No phone call, no email, no anything from the firm. I thought I had won the lottery with this internship only to be told that my ticket was invalid. My husband was getting sick of my lamenting.
Since I was convinced by this point in time that I was a design intern reject, I decided to stop whining and remind myself of some valuable lessons that I had learned through this process:
Get out there and keep trying - You can only learn what they are looking for by getting out there and trying. Since I know now what the expectations are in the design world, I had better keep at it. If one of my attempts to get an internship works out, then I’d be in designer nirvana. Because of this, I want to know even more what people are looking for and I’m even thinking of going to one of my instructors for advice. Wisdom and relationships are golden.
Dress for success – I’m not kidding. This was difficult for me (which is unusual) as I didn’t want to look like I was interviewing for an accounting position yet at the same time I did not want to send out the “just got back from the beach” vibe either. Finding middle ground was difficult. I borrowed a simple black White House Black Market dress and paired it with an oversize red bag that I used to carry my portfolio in as well as neccesities.
Bring your professional portfolio – I knew that the portfolio is vital to a design interview and so I made sure that I gathered as much info about my work as possible. In the last semesters at school (which I am not a part of right now), the students gather work and files to show potential customers and employers. This includes room renderings, deign layouts, etc. Since I was pretty sure that they didn’t want to see the hand drawn drafting project that looked like my 2nd grader did it, I put together a word document highlighting my client’s work thus far. I knew that it wasn’t stunning but I always had my delicious black dress and red bag!
My recent work for my friend Lisa
Photograph your work - Oh, I wish I would have done this better! Up until this point, my projects have been simple but there are several that I am was very proud of having done. I spent little time documenting the progress and wished that I had some of the documentation at the interview. Good cameras and good photographers are the key. Thank you to my great friend Drew who spent the day re-shooting my friend’ media room for this interview. The pictures turned out crisp and beautiful. Thanks for lifting my spirits with your talent!
By Drew, my photographer
It’s an Employer’s Market – All that talk about the bad economy…yes it’s affecting interior design too. There are tons of people vying for interior design jobs - even the free ones. There’s such a demand for jobs, the employers don’t even need to contact you about the status of the position. I even saw one posting that stated “Only those applicants under consideration will be contacted. If you are not contacted for this position, please accept our sincere thanks and appreciation for your interest! PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE STORE OR DESIGN FIRM!”
Be Patient – The perfect job is out there given enough time pursuing it. I’ve proven I can get the interview. So, I’ve decided not to waste my time applying for those positions that don’t knock my socks off (unless in your case, you have to pay the bills). Working something that isn’t a dream for me at this point would be detrimental to my family and school. I want to love my job and I need to show some patience. (Funny how patience is my weakness and yet it was one of the questions that came up in the interview....)
When you think that something just wasn’t meant to be, don’t get discouraged! It’s ok. There is something better around the corner. Until the day comes that we are able to post an opening for ourselves and be contacted by someone with the perfect position, we have to keep trying!
Update to interview: After over a week of not hearing anything, the firm contacted me with enormous news --- I got the job! Can you believe it?!? I am thrilled to be heading out in my new direction and looking forward to the day when I can look back on all this and smile. Wish me luck!