I’ve received more than one or two emails from young designers who are fresh out of school and looking for work in this field.
And even though business is booming (at least it is around here), and we’re all complaining about how busy we are…
None of us are hiring all that much.
We’re all a little gun shy. 2008 happened, and we've all been driving down a long road, hoping to get back to where we were. If you’re a designer who's had to let someone go because of a lack of work, you know you don’t want to have to do that ever again.
After 2008, we were all advised to go lean and slim down our business expenses, farm out services to contract and freelance workers to help get things done and to avoid having to financially support full-time employees. And that’s exactly what I've seen many designers doing.
I recently received an email from someone who wanted to get into design but lived in a rural area.
You see, designers are mostly located in urban areas, where jobs are more plentiful. And even though there are some wonderful rural projects out there, oftentimes you’ll see a big city designer at the helm of those large projects. In other words:
Jobs working for interior designers in rural areas aren't growing on trees.
This aspiring interior designer wanted to follow her dreams. She had a degree, but hadn’t yet used it. She needed experience. She needed to know where and how to begin her journey.
Here are some of the suggestions I gave her:
1. Provide web-based services.
Do you have autocad or other skills you could provide designers, remotely? Designers always need help, but the financial responsibility of hiring someone full-time or part-time is often too great. That's why hiring someone on a contract basis can be a win/win for both parties — designers get the help they need and you get to learn from the work you experience, all the while staying close to home. Many of today's designers are older, like me (around 55 or up), and don't have the computer savvy that's needed to do some of the technical computer work our always-advancing industry demands. I have one designer friend who uses a contract person to remotely do all her autocad. It works really well for her.
2. Use your location to your advantage.
If you're not up to speed on your computer skills, take some time to brush up, and then market yourself directly to designers who live somewhat close to your area. This way, if the designer you're working for needs on-site help, you won't have to travel far to assist. Being in touch regularly with a designer, especially if you're already performing in a technical capacity, would be an easy jump to more regular work and face to face situations.
3. Be prepared to embrace opportunity when it comes.
Follow lots of blogs and social media profiles of interior designers. If you sense they're having some sort of trouble with their day-to-day publishing or an opportunity for their content to be enhanced, offer to help! For instance, you can produce digital storyboards with freely available online tools and put them out there on PInterest, etc. Whatever it is you decide to do, just make sure you at least have a simple website or online destination that shows off what you're capable of. It doesn't have to showcase any real life work for someone else, just make up a project for a "pretend" client. After all, that's what you were doing in school. Right?
Here's an example of something some designers might need help producing: digital storyboards. They're what we use to help convey design ideas clients. (Click one of the Pins in the attached Pinterest widget to see some of our own digital storyboards.)
The bottom line:
If you want to be in this business and you're just now starting out, make connections with interior designers by letting them know about the ways you can make their job easier. Try to see how you can fill a void or provide support in some way. Don’t make your conversation about you. Don’t ramble on forever about your goals, your wishes, your future. Simply show them how you can help. Show them how you’re flexible. Show them your sincere interest. Show them your creativity. We like those sorts of things. ;-)
What do you guys think?
Do YOU have any suggestions for an up-and-coming, educated, motivated designer who needs to learn more about our business and earn a living at the same time?
Please leave your suggestions. Your advice might make someone’s dream come true.