Getting What You Wish for Is Easy
Describing recent Design Institute of San Diego graduate Katie Renee as a "go-getter" is a complete understatement. The charismatic Washington State native recently landed her dream job as a Materials Consultant for 3form, all while preparing intensely for her ID V real-world project. Not to mention scrambling to prepare for numerous other finals to round out her spring semester at DISD.
With a previous bachelor's degree in business and a concentration in marketing, Katie came to California to work for the Fortune 500 company Newell Rubbermaid. She worked for their décor division for several years and then decided to go back to school to study interior design. She applied to DISD after extensively researching schools with notable interior design programs up and down the West Coast. "I came here and it was the right fit. It's the best out here."
Near the end of the school's intensive interior design program, Katie learned from a designer at ID Studios, where she had completed her required internship hours, of an open sales position with 3form. Katie decided she wanted get back into the sales groove, and seized the opportunity to send in her resume. However, it appeared at first that she was too late. The associates from 3form were already at the airport after conducting interviews, headed back to headquarters in Salt Lake City and with a candidate in mind. "And I said, 'Please let me have a phone interview tomorrow. I promise I won't disappoint you!'" she recalls.
They gave her a chance, which was fabulous news for Katie. After the interview, she flew to Salt Lake City to meet with 3form's CEO. Regarding her new position, Katie shares: "I love it. Can you tell? It's so much fun because I'm able to use my sales and business background but also use my interior design background to help designers come up with creative solutions using this really innovative product." So what was it about Katie that had the 3form recruitment team reevaluate their hiring decision after going through several rounds of interviews with other candidates, one of which they were ready to offer the position to? "I can talk to anybody," she answers in a heartbeat. "And in a sales position, you need to not only be able to talk to the interns and everyone else all the way up to the principle of the firm, you also have to be able to have an intelligent conversation with them. And be able to have a little bit of fun while getting the job done. I think that's maybe what they saw in me - I have a fun personality, a big personality."
That she does. Katie's energy and self confidence radiated as she shared details of her life as a DISD student. "It's all attitude," she says. When she is overwhelmed by having too many things on her plate, she takes a moment to give herself a pep talk, to remind herself that nothing is impossible: "That's just always my mentality with anything I want. I really wanted this 3form job. So my end goal is I'm going to get the job - I already know that, just how am I going to get there? This may sound kind of weird, but you see the end in mind from the beginning and you claim it and you already know it's yours. You just know it's going to work out."
This outlook on getting ahead in life also explains how she managed to get through this particular semester. While she was busy flying around the country to secure her dream job, Katie was also part of a group of three DISD students (along with Amy Nelson and Veronica Cruz), tackling a real-life project for their ID V course. Led by instructor Lily Robinson, the ID V students designed a remodel of Excelsior Academy, a local charter school devoted to helping students with learning disabilities achieve independence and success. At the end of the 15-week course, the students presented their concept and plans to the director and staff of Excelsior Academy. It was in the third week of the semester when events with 3form went into motion, but handling herself professionally and with grace, Katie remained focused on each task, staying connected via email with her student team, sharing ideas and giving input, often while on a plane.
The class was given a research question at the beginning of the semester: How does the design of the built environment affect its use by these particular students? It was clear to Katie and her team from the beginning how they should approach the project: give the client what they want. "We even started off the final presentation with 10 slides: 'Here are the ten things that you wanted us to change in your school...'" Her group selected the concept of sailing for the redesign of the school. "Being able to navigate the rough waters and calm waters individually, you have to work together as a crew," Katie explains. The team had to take into consideration the special needs of the Excelsior Academy students when formulating ideas, such as being conscious of pattern and color choices, as the students would not benefit from distracting finishes. There was a also a great need for both collaborative and individual spaces, as class sizes were small and each student needed a lot of one-on-one time with their teachers. "It's a challenge because as designers, we want the pop of color here and this texture there, and you just couldn't do that with this project," she reflects.
In the end, Katie and her team were smart to stick with giving the client exactly what they were looking for as they were selected at the end of presentations for having the best overall redesign. Their beautifully assembled project boards can be seen for a limited time in the main office hallway at Design Institute, hanging proudly in the fourth-year student work section.
How much better can things get for this born leader? Not much, according to her: "Honestly, I feel like I've gotten this perfect position with this company. 10-15 years down the road, I would still love to be working for them." One of the aspects of her job that she loves is traveling from firm to firm, and having an instant rapport with other DISD graduates out in the field. She's even run into executives that claim they won't hire anyone unless they've graduated from DISD because of how much more comprehensive the interior design program is versus others in the area. She also has no regrets for her decision to follow her passion and return to school: "The time is going to pass anyway. You might as well work towards something that you want to do for the rest of your life. If I would have not gone to this school, I would have not met the people, had the internship, got my perfect job...I would have been doing the same thing and the time would have been passing anyway. That's my biggest piece of advice: You might as well work towards something that you love while the time is passing."
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- Inspiring Others Towards a Path to Fulfillment
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