In partnership withNew York School of Interior Design

4 Tips from Design Pros on Successfully Pursuing Your Passion

published May 13, 2022
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Maybe you find yourself reimagining your decor or giving home styling advice to friends. Perhaps you just enjoy seeking out the beauty in your surroundings. Whatever your passion is, making time and space to explore those interests can enrich your personal and professional life — especially if you’ve ever dreamed of making your passion your occupation.

To help you take your next step, we asked three professional interior designers for their advice on navigating a creative field. Each designer knows how it feels to take a chance on yourself, and they all kickstarted their journeys at The New York School of Interior Design. NYSID’s bachelor’s and master’s programs can launch your new favorite job, while their Institute for Continuing and Professional Studies has general interest classes and certificate programs that are ideal for just dipping your toe into top-notch creative education.

With these expert tips on putting your creativity to use, you’ll be ready to see where your passion takes you next.

1.  Tell imposter syndrome to take a hike.

Everybody suffers from imposter syndrome at one point or another. Especially in a creative field, it’s important to avoid comparing your work to others’ and instead focus on what makes you you.

Rachel Edelstein is making her mark on the Washington, D.C. design scene as an associate interior designer at Beyer Blinder Belle. She says that because there will always be other designers who are “more than capable of selecting finishes and completing a set of construction drawings,” she finds ways to make her work stand out. “I have found that when you show others how much you care about the things you are working on, it assures them they’ve done something right in choosing you.”

“There will be learning curves and bumps along the road, and times when you say to yourself ‘maybe this wasn’t the right choice.’ It’s always the right choice if it’s something that means a lot to you and brings you joy.”

2. Invest in your education.

There’s no substitute for professional training. Learning a craft from experts opens your eyes to challenges and possibilities that can only come from years in the field. At NYSID, students learn the principles of good design so they can step into the working world after graduating. Rikki Tenenbaum, an interior designer at Gabellini Sheppard Associates, credits her education for helping her build the career she has today.

“Their (NYSID’S) courses are geared toward working in the industry. There’s no extra fluff. You’re picking everything that you need and you’re really able to translate that into the real world,” Rikki says. NYSID’s undergraduate curriculum spans topics from textiles and lighting to architecture and furniture design, and their graduate programs (or professional certificates) let you refine your skills even further. “You’re able to go from classroom to real world pretty seamlessly.”

Credit: Minette Hand

3. Find an internship or work practicum.

You don’t need to wait until graduation to get real-world experience. For Rikki Tenenbaum, taking on internships while still in school meant she graduated with both practical knowledge and connections.

“My first internship was at The Nature Conservancy building. I had a wonderful mentor there who gave me these little assignments to help me know the building, and also learn their branding and what different showrooms had to offer,” Rikki says. 

Taking on work placements let Rikki explore different career paths and eventually steered her to her next career opportunity. “You never know what experiences are going to lead you to your next big thing.”

4. Remember why you’re here.

People pursue creative careers because they get to spend their days doing what they love, and it’s important to not lose sight of that. When doubt kicks in, Rachel Edelstein’s personal fulfillment inspires her to keep going. “There have been times in my career where stress and burnout have led me to almost lose track of that idea, but that knowledge is so important to stay inspired,” she says. 

For aspiring creatives, Rachel’s most succinct advice is: go for it. “Taking a creative pursuit from a hobby to a profession can be a dangerous game because you’re adding pressure to something that starts out as purely blissful. But when it works, you end up doing that thing all day every day, and what could be better than that?”

Improving your skills can help you appreciate your creativity even more. NYSID’s flexibility with in-person and online courses makes it easy to take the first step, and their top-notch degree and certificate programs are there to turn your five-to-nine into your nine-to-five.