Name: Allison Roon
Field of Study: Interior Design
Year of Graduation: 2003
Current Position: Owner/Design Consultant: Allison Roon Design, Instructor: Kendall College of Art and Design, Grand Rapids, Mich.
What was the most important thing you learned about your field while at Kendall?
It is essential to be able to listen to your client and to design to their needs instead of your own design preference. Your job is to advocate for your client's best interests throughout the design process, as well as educate them on the thinking that drives your decisions. Clients need to feel engaged in the process in order to build trust and buy in to the work you are doing. If you can listen to your client's needs and translate those into workable, functional, beautiful design solutions, you will be set up for success.
What was your most shocking realization about your field after graduation?
There is so much to learn when you get your first job! Although Kendall does an amazing job preparing you for the realities of your field, "on-the-job" learning will be invaluable. Be ready and willing to learn, ask a lot of questions anytime you don't understand something, and be proactive about becoming involved in your company in order to learn about all facets of design and business.
Give us your best interview tip.
Be prepared with a list of questions. This shows that you are engaged with the company, that you've researched who they are and the type of work they do, that you're not afraid to ask for information, and that you come prepared to meetings (a key component of working with your clients or other designers). It's always impressive when you have good questions to ask, and it's amazing how many interviewees say that they don't have any questions when asked.
List three ways you network in your field.
- Local interior design chapters (like ASID and IIDA).
- Client mailings and my own personal website.
- Community organizations (through church or volunteer opportunities).
What was the worst interview moment you've experienced?
I was interviewing an applicant who was very nervous and clicked her pen the entire time she spoke. Try not to have anything in your hands that you could tap or move around nervously without being aware of it.
List three résumé "don'ts."
- Don't use more than one page.
- Don't have any spelling mistakes.
- Don't send it out before at least one person proofreads it.
List three résumé "do's."
- Arrange your information in a clear, organized way.
- List the skills you have and computer programs you know.
- State interesting or important information that might set you apart from other candidates (community service leadership positions, awards you've won, important people you may have worked with, special events you've attended like NeoCon, professional speakers you've heard, etc.).
Name the most essential skill, tool or software program relative to your field.
Organization and communication skills are key. These two traits go hand-in-hand. You need to be an effective communicator, and you need to be organized. Interior design projects have a lot of different components to them and a lot of different people working together to make them come to life. The designer is the liaison between the client, the contractor, the design firm, and all of the subcontractors and vendors. It is essential that he or she be able to communicate clearly and effectively with all of these groups of people, as well as keep all of the project information straight between disciplines.