A little while ago I received an email at work asking for advice on how to get a job in interior design.
I thought for a minute and realised that ‘officially’ I had no idea.
You see, I have worked in the interior design world for coming up to 18 months but before that I had no qualifications, no experience and no insight or contacts in the industry.
I worked in marketing and communications for my whole career – working across a range of jobs including being a press officer for the Health Minister, assistant director of marketing for a further education college and even a comms manager in the Ministry of Defence. Absolutely nothing to do with the world interiors.
It was a world I very much wanted to be part of, But I didn’t really have a clue how to get a job in interior design other than to undertake a formal education in it. I wasn’t sure about that – firstly there is normally a pretty big cost involved, secondly a huge time commitment and third it probably meant I’d need to quit work and lose my income. Not an option.
So to sate my interest, I started blogging about interiors instead and working on my own home.
I was unhappy in my job, and after a long time of dithering I decided to take the leap and change the direction of my career. You can read about that here. Getting a full time job in interiors wasn’t my intention per se when I quit my job, but lo and behold just after I left my corporate job an opportunity came up working in interiors!
If you are wondering how to get a job in interior design here are my tips. Now, as I said earlier this is NOT official advice – it is just from my own observations and experience but hopefully you will find it useful.
My 5 tips on how to get a job in interior design
Follow the trends
Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, TV programmes and magazines-it has never been easier to have a wealth of interior design material at your fingertips.
If you are not already poring over each of these regularly then start.
Know what is on trend, learn different styles and techniques and get to know who the key players are. It will become invaluable material for you.
Create your own experience
You don’t need paying clients to have gathered experience. Use your own home to practise and hone your skills. Whether you are interested in styling or design, use your own space to learn and find your style – and that is equally as relevant if you rent or if you own your home.
When you start to get compliments from your own home, I bet you’ll get requests from friends and family for help too. These are your first ‘clients’!
Discover your niche
Once you have started developing your skills on your own home and those of your friends and family’s then it is time to start drilling down to what it is you love and are good at. Is it design of bold, bright spaces? Perhaps it is designing gorgeous spaces on a budget, or maybe your real strength is working with an existing interior and styling it so well it makes it amazing.
Once you know that, it is time to do some research in what area you might like to work in. There is so much out there alongside the obvious of designing rich people’s homes – for example designing corporate spaces, bars, pubs and clubs, show homes, hotels, styling for interior related brands, blogging, working in magazines … the list goes on.
Document and share your work
Don’t keep all your hard work to yourself – create a portfolio and let people see it. And that doesn’t have to be a portfolio in the traditional sense. It is SO easy now to do this as blogs and Instagram are perfect online forum that act like a portfolio. Build your portfolio including your best work – and don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be perfect to begin with. You’ll start to see yourself learn, grow and improve.
In my experience you need quite a bit of time to create a blog that gains traction (although I have seen others create very strong blogs with big followings very quickly so it is possible), but something like Instagram is so easy – just create a beautiful feed of your gorgeous designed/styled spaces and interact with like minded others.
Once you have built up a ‘portfolio’ of work, get sharing it. Reach out to people who can really help you get to where you want to go. There is an amazing network and community of interior lovers on Instagram and you can befriend people from the industry with ease.
Photography by Marlene Lee
Get your foot in the door
And then it is your time to get your foot in the door!
I am a big fan of what I like to call adult work experience – where you offer your services for free in return for time inside the company.
If you have the means to do it even for a few days it can be so beneficial, not only providing you with information about the industry to ensure it is right for you but also to build contacts and you may even get an offer.
Provide the company with a strong reason to give you a chance at work experience. Businesses are normally busy places with little time to babysit people so tell them what you can do to help them out. Don’t think you will get in there and start designing – it is likely you’ll be ordering fabric samples or the like but do it well and efficiently and you’ll be noticed.
This method probably isn’t going to be the quickest route of how to get a job in interior design but it is a strong starting point. You might have learnt enough to know what you do what to do a course in the subject or perhaps you have already done one and you need an edge to get noticed.
Following these steps provided me with a base to be taken seriously in the interiors world and I have seen enough interior Instagrammers and bloggers make it their job in this way so I am confident it can work for you too.
As the actor Steve Martin likes to say: Be so good they can’t ignore you!
What are your thoughts? Have you been wondering how to get a job in interiors? Have you entered the interior industry in a non-conventional way? I’d love to know your experience!
If you found this useful, I have a favour to ask of you…
I have been nominated for the prestigious Amara Blog Awards 2017 in the Best Interior Lifestyle category. I need your vote to help me secure a place in the finals. It only takes a moment and I would be eternally grateful. Vote here!