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NESAD Graduate Panel Discussion

11.08.13 / Stephen O'Connor

Recently, I was asked to come back to my graduate school (Suffolk University – New England School of Art and Design) to speak on a panel presentation of recent alums discussing their early career steps.  I was joined by interior designers from ADD Inc., Hacin + Associates and Vinick & Claufield.  The presentation had a good turnout of about 30-40 current graduate and undergraduate designers.

Each panelist was given about ten minutes to talk followed by a Q&A period at the end of the session.  I began with my own schooling experience and my decision to attend graduate school for interior architecture after earning a marketing degree.  I also touched on the exciting opportunity I experienced when my apartment was featured on apartment therapy.

The final topic I addressed was ARC.  I have been at the firm for a year now and have had the chance to really understand the culture. During my time here, I have been exposed to a wide range of projects and scopes.  My focus was on my experience with the  Deerfield Academy Arts Center and Ursuline Academy Athletics Center projects but I also spoke to the variety of project types ARC works on including our expertise in planning, programming and designing science and research buildings.

We closed the session with our advice for the current students – ask questions - advice that I feel is great for anyone. All of my fellow panelists have worked on a diverse range of project types yet we all seem to agree on this theme; we have encountered many new challenges in our careers and one of best “lessons learned” is to ask our fellow coworkers and peers in the industry, many of whom have been down the same road before.

I was thrilled to be part of the panel and hopefully shared some helpful tips for younger designers. My experience has shown that designing is truly a collaborative process, whether in school or at work.

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