Success Beyond the Classroom: Interior Design Students Thrive in New Professional Practices Course

The fall semester is coming to an end; however, for many students, this is just the beginning. While for some students, their undergraduate career is a time to explore and discover their passions, many students enter college with a clearly desired professional path. This semester, the Adrian College Interior Design Department launched a pilot program, helping their students bridge the gap between their academic and professional interests in addition to providing the college with a beneficial resource. The program is a 400-level class, “Professional Practices.” 

Students may recall receiving an email early in the semester inviting them to have an Adrian College Interior Design student design their dream room. The collaboration between client and designer is made possible by the use of “Intrinsic Design Studio,” a program matching a client to an Interior Design Department senior, who will assist throughout the entirety of the design process. 

INTD408 is a deviation from the standard course curriculum in the majority of the Interior Design classes, with a greater emphasis on the business of interior design versus the design techniques themselves. Throughout the course, students learned various business practices, such as designing and sending a resume, interviewing for a position, and managing the day-to-day tasks that go into running a profitable interior design business. 

Professor Patti Dudley said, “Sometimes the paperwork and nuances of any job are not realized until after you have worked in a position, and it can be daunting and boring. So, we try to make [students] aware.” 

The seven students who make up the class are seniors, with two planning to graduate in December and the rest in the spring. The students have each successfully completed three years of Interior Design studies, and the majority have also completed a professional internship during the summer. 

But despite their ample training in Interior Design, with the course being more heavily focused on the business side of their creative endeavors, Dudley said students wanted to jump right into the design versus planning for the project itself. After meeting with the client, the designers needed to create a contract for proposed services and establish a business plan before beginning the initial design. 

“[This class] provided an opportunity to understand the basics of how to start a business, how to file the right paperwork to start a business, how to start the LLC, and how to budget. [I learned] the steps to follow to have a successful business,” said Benjamin Seigman, a prospective business owner and future entrepreneur. 

On the flip side, while the students are benefitting from their newly acquired professional training Adrian College has also gained a valuable resource. In the past, Interior Design students have presented concept designs for President Docking, were involved in a locker room renovation for the golf team and created preliminary plans for various projects. Not only does this allow the students in the Interior Design program to showcase their work, but it also becomes an asset to Adrian College, as they have students who have proven capable of assisting with projects around campus. 

Cassidy McGeorge said, “The class is unique because you get real-life experience while getting to do all of your work inside the class.”

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