In partnership withNew York School of Interior Design

4 Working Designers Share Advice on How to Turn Your Side Interest Into a Career

published Oct 28, 2019
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Credit: Stephanie Rizzardi, Chris Shao Studio

You have a vision board for every room, an eagle eye for telling Eames knock-offs from the real deal, and strong opinions about painting hardwood floors. But you might not know how to turn your design hobby into a career. If you’ve always dreamed of pursuing your creative passion, now is the time to make it happen.

Changing careers might sound daunting, but New York School of Interior Design (NYSID) can help you take the first step and jumpstart your dream career. They have a variety of both full-time and part-time degree programs for both undergraduates and graduates that will teach you the fundamentals of interior design, backed by an accomplished faculty of interior designers, architects, visual artists, and art and design historians.

Credit: Stephanie Rizzardi, Chris Shao Studio

We asked four recent NYSID graduates — who came from backgrounds in not just design but also retail, construction, and even dance — what advice they’d give to someone considering a career switch:

Talk to people — not just people in the industry. Talk to everyone. Shadow someone if you can, or ask people you respect for informational interviews. Get all the information you can, then sit with it and be honest. Follow your instinct.

Shannon Andrews, a former professional dancer, now a Senior Designer at HLW. She received her Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design from NYSID.

When you’re thinking about a career change, it means that you’re clearly not meant to be doing what you currently are, so take the risk and go with your gut. Not only did I change careers, but I also moved from Melbourne, Australia to do so. 5 years later, I’m still living in New York City and I have never looked back.

Stephanie Rizzardi, a former retail worker, now a Senior Designer at Chris Shao Studio. She received her Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design from NYSID.
Credit: Stephanie Rizzardi, Chris Shao Studio

Don’t be afraid to go back to school. Even if you are just taking a few classes, the things you learn and the connections you make while in school will have an impact on your career years after you graduate.

Clare Glower, formerly at a commercial architecture and interior design firm, now a Designer at Goodrich Company. She received her Post-professional Master of Fine Arts from NYSID.

Don’t keep putting it off, especially because you think you’re too old. If you’ve bothered enough to look at options, then just take the step — it’s scary and exciting all at once. NYSID welcomes and supports you, and having a variety of life and career experiences actually helps you design better. You can draw inspiration from a range of skills and experiences. It also helps you to articulate your design inspiration and process more easily! It’s a wonderful experience.

Pete Agnew, former owner/operator of a small group of businesses in Australia, now a Designer at CannonDesign. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design and his Master of Professional Studies in Healthcare Interior Design from NYSID.

For design enthusiasts looking to start with just a class or two, consider NYSID’s Institute for Continuing and Professional Studies. They have your back with flexible scheduling, in-person and online courses, and professional development classes for credentials.