Getting Interior Design Job Experience

Take your first steps in an entry-level interior design job or internship.
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Starting Out

As with most other professions, new interior designers have to work their way up the job ladder.

Since qualifying for NCIDQ certification requires supervised experience in the field, your first interior design job will likely involve assisting more experienced designers with tasks related to their projects.

While you may be impatient to start your interior design career, an internship or apprenticeship is a great way to transition smoothly from school to the workplace. The Interior Design Experience Program (IDEP) is a program designed specifically to help you get your first interior design job experience.

Interior Design Experience Program

IDEP is an NCIDQ-run program that helps you structure and document your work experience. While IDEP will not place you in an interior design job, they will help ensure that your work experience is balanced and prepares you for your future in an interior design career. While participating in the program, you will form networking relationships with a supervisor and a mentor, both of whom will be NCIDQ certified.

In some states participation in IDEP is required in order to gain your license. Some employers may also prefer to hire job candidates who have enrolled in IDEP.

Interior Design Internships and Your Portfolio

It's important to create a portfolio that highlights your creativity, interior design ability and variety in the work that you've done. When you're ready to apply for an entry-level interior design job, prospective employers may also be looking for examples of your problem solving and organizational skills. While your school work should help you fill out your portfolio to start, interior design internships can also provide great opportunities to diversify your interior design portfolio and keep it updated.

So how do you find interior design jobs and internships? Networking is a critical skill for any designer. You have to know the right people—or know someone who knows the right people. If you're a student or recent graduate, find out if your school has a career services/placement program and take advantage of it.

Another good way to make connections is joining associations such as the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). You never know if the people you'll meet may be able to help you find an interior design job. For those who have yet to graduate, join a student chapter of ASID to get started.