70 INTERIORS & SOURCES MARCH 2015 interiorsandsources.com
By Genny Ramos
Every year, IIDA pairs two students with an inte- rior designer for a one-day crash course on a day in the life of a designer. Student Mentoring Week, one of IIDA’s most dynamic program
offerings, is the catalyst for many IIDA student members
who wish to begin a mentoring relationship with a professional interior designer. By the time this column is published,
nearly 500 IIDA student members will have made meaningful connections
with the best in the interior design industry. The goal is for the students
and their mentors to continue buildings connections like these after the
day is over.
There is no doubt that a strong mentoring relationship can play a huge
role in a student’s academic and professional success. Numerous studies
support the positive effects of mentoring relationships. Many companies like
Boeing and Deloitte implement professional mentoring programs to develop
and retain younger employees. But if you think mentoring is simply weekly
Starbucks dates with a senior-level professional or a quick way to score
professional success—including a job—think again.
The reality is that mentoring relationships require a serious investment
of time, patience, and effort for both the mentor and mentee. While a
mentor’s role is to guide, a mentee’s role holds just as much weight, if not
more. Ultimately, you—the mentee—have primary say in your mentoring
relationship. You initiate the mentoring relationship, you are responsible for
nurturing it, and you can end it. Here are some tips to help you in your
quest to find a mentor and be the mentee that mentors want.
Mentorship is a word that conjures many notions and expectations.
Some students come into a mentoring relationship expecting their mentor
If you’re having trouble identifying what
to offer them a job or provide them lifelong coaching without first deter-
mining if the partnership is a good one. Have a strong definition of what
to you and use that
when seeking teachers,
designers, peers, and work
colleagues you admire and pursue.
you want from your relationship,
◗ Do I want to emulate my mentor’s career or am I
looking for someone who will act like a trusted friend?
◗ Do I want someone who will help me search for educational
and life opportunities in addition to career opportunities?
◗ How long do I want my mentor in my life? Do I want someone who
knows me enough to write a sufficient letter of reference or do I want
someone who will be a guiding figure throughout my entire career?
Be proactive in your search for a mentor, considering goals for the
relationship and how long it will last. Understand why you need mentorship
and how it can help you succeed professionally.
Once you have your mentorship goals in mind, communicate them clearly
to your potential mentor and ask what expectations the mentor has.
HOW TO BE
The impact successful mentorship can have on future
designers is life-changing.