Passion, Drive and the “It-Factor”
I had the pleasure of attending another ASID/IIDA Wisconsin Interior Design Student Career Day this past Friday at American Family Insurance. The committee created a great schedule of presentations and activities to inspire students and prepare them for their professional careers.
Aga Artka and I teamed up for a presentation titled “Who Are You?” We gave students a structure for developing an “elevator speech” and tried to get them to think “out-of-the-box” in terms of what they can offer a future employer. Every designer needs to understand they bring more to the table than a design degree and design-related experience. It is their other unique skills and characteristics that will set them apart from the competition. And if you have a few minutes with a new contact, how are you going to communicate that? What can you say to someone that will make a good first impression and leave a lasting impression?
I enjoyed both of our break-out sessions, and we received some positive feedback, but I hope the participants actually start to practice some of the things we preached.
You could see that some students just get it and are ready to jumpstart their careers. You could actually see them listening and learning. Additional conversations with various students throughout the day demonstrated that they are trying to figure things out and pave a road for their personal and professional success. They have the passion and the drive… and they are getting “it.”
The “It-Factor” means two different things to me. From a design sense, it can mean that the student just has a natural talent for the field of design and everything that it encompasses. You can clearly see that they have what it takes to succeed as a design professional.
Since I don’t always see their actual work, the “it” can have a whole other meaning. The business”It- Factor,” means they are a force to be reckoned with. They are asking questions, trying to understand how to dive into their careers, making connections, and creating impact. I firmly believe we need to work hard and create opportunities for ourselves. They are not just going to fall in our laps..although sometimes and for some people they conveniently do. The “it” students I met on Friday are going to make things happen for themselves, and I love watching that process.
And what about everyone else? There is still time to get “it.” I met a few timid students who questioned what makes them special or how to break out of their quiet shells. I applaud them for asking the question. That is a start. I don’t have all of the answers for them, and I can’t make them network, but I believe they see the value because they took the time to ask.
While we speak to a lot of Juniors and Seniors in order to make sure they are quickly ready to go, I challenge the Freshman ands Sophomores to start now. Take things step by step and by the time graduation is approaching, you will already have a solid network of connections in place.
Whether you are outspoken and outgoing or quiet and reserved, you can find a way to reach out and make connections. You can craft a message that sets you apart from the competition and find a way to spread your story.
Be passionate, be driven and find your “it-factor.” And as Aga and I always say - Good Luck!