Graduated from your design training and just received your official interior decorating certificate? Congrats! Now it’s time to turn your education into a full-time career!
QC Design School tutor, Tammy Hart, I.D.D.P, CAPS is a certified interior decorating specialist. She’s also a Certified Aging in Place Specialist from the National Association of Home Builders. Tammy is the owner and award-winning designer for the Designer Chick Co., as well as the Past Director on the National Board for DDA (formerly CDECA).
From Student to Graduate
I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a student of QC Design School. As I earned my interior decorating certificate, I got to learn all about the world of design and decorating. Furthermore, I was building even further upon the transferrable skills I’d already developed during my previous career.
At the end of my last unit, I was beyond excited to receive the final feedback from my tutor, Michelle. But after listening to it, I was hit with a sudden realization: I had no clue what to do next. I’d successfully completed my interior decorating certificate, but what were my next steps supposed to be? How was I supposed to take what I’d learned and transform everything into an actual, thriving design career?
Let’s face it – there are only so many courses you can, should, and need to take before the pupil needs to become the professional. In the words of Nike, “Just Do It.”
So, how can you “just do it”? I’ll share my own journey and what I did to turn my certification training into a legitimate career. Hopefully you’ll get inspired and squirrel away a few helpful tips for when your time comes!
Moving Beyond My Interior Decorating Certificate
Upon graduating and obtaining my interior decorating certificate, I knew I was at a crossroad. I needed to choose the direction in which I wanted to work in this industry. My choices, as I’m sure is the case with most new graduates, were:
- Working for myself;
- Or working for an established design company.
Let me make this very clear: this is a decision that’s personal to you and your journey. You need to do what feels right for you. That being said, don’t be afraid to try a few different avenues! If it doesn’t work, simply try another path.
Personally, I wasn’t 100% sure which path I wanted to take at first. To help give me guidance, I hired Claudine, The Pink Coach. Claudine specializes in career transition and would help me weigh the pros and cons of each choice. The goal was that she would ultimately help me choose my final decision.
In the end, I decided that I wanted to work for myself. Now that I knew that, it was time to get the ball rolling!
Transforming My Interior Decorating Certificate into My Own Business
Once I’d created my career success path, there was no stopping me! First, I got my website up and running. Next, I had my business cards designed. But then I found myself hiding behind my computer – because I thought that was the only prime way to get my name out there.
I quickly realized that by doing this, I wasn’t making the best use of my interior decorating certificate. So, I went back to my career success plan in order to remind myself of where I wanted to be. This way, I could stay true to the plan.
Using My Interior Decorating Certificate to Network
My goal was to be successful in this industry. So, I needed to create strategic partnerships that could help me grow professionally. However, it was equally as important that I’d be able to reciprocate these partnerships as well.
Right now, you might be exactly where I was back then. When you’re brand-new to the industry, you don’t yet have anyone to turn to for advice or guidance. So, how should you start building your network – when you don’t yet have anyone in your network?
Here’s what I did: I made phone calls to local industry professionals and arranged to meet up for coffee chats. This first step was critical on my end! After all, these pros are the very people who’ve paved the way for all other designers. As such, these were the people I wanted to learn from.
I also took any opportunity available to me to go above and beyond. For example, I not only sought out mentors in the interior decorating field; I also sought out opportunities to work in the construction industry. Why? So I could learn from talented trades people and properly understand the construction process – from cinder block, to drywall, and every aspect in-between.
Pro Tip: COVID limitations restricting you from setting up coffee chats? No problem! Simply schedule virtual coffee chats instead!
The Importance of Networking
As you can see, I went out of my way to actively create opportunities for both myself and my career. But on top of that, I also found other ways to network day and night. I’ll never forget the first networking event I went to, particularly because I connected with this one lady. After talking about what we both do, she was suddenly hiring me to help her redesign her main floor!
Let me tell you, I was shaking! I was so nervous at this unexpected opportunity – but even more excited! That was the beginning of my career success. From there, I’ve gone from winning clients to winning design awards. I’ve even been sought after for TV opportunities and five-page magazine spreads.
All of this being said, remember that more success equals more work. As your design business grows into a full-time career, you’ll have more projects and more networking that needs to be done. In the same breath, you’ll always want to be on the lookout for continued learning opportunities. NEVER fall into the trap of thinking you know everything there is to know. The moment you do will be the moment your success reaches its limit.
Based on my personal experience, I can tell you this with 100% certainty: building on your interior decorating certificate and taking advantage of new learning opportunities in this industry will help you stay on top of trends. Even more importantly, it will help you strengthen your authority as an expert!
Final Tip: Enroll in an Interior Decorating Certificate Course Today!
One of the most defining moments of my career was after I’d earned my interior decorating certificate. Despite being nervous, I chose to made a fateful call to my alma mater, QC Design School. You see, I’d been so inspired by my tutor and I wanted to give back. I wanted to be able to help shape the future for other students, the way Michelle had done for me.
So, I pleaded my case to become a QC tutor myself…and now, here I am! Through working with clients, I’d discovered that I absolutely LOVE teaching. Educating others in design is actually what I love most about my job! The funny thing is, if you’d asked me 5 years ago where I thought my interior decorating certificate would take me, education would not been part of my answer. It wasn’t included in my career success path at the time.
It all just goes to show you that in a lucrative industry like this, you never know WHERE you’ll be down the road! But one thing is certain: so long as you put in the time, the effort, and the patience, success will be inevitable!
Food for Thought
Earlier, I mentioned that you need to do what feels right, while not being afraid to try and take risks. If it doesn’t work, try another path.
This is the beginning of YOUR journey in this creative industry. Embrace it and challenge yourself! Follow the path that you’re building for yourself. Allow yourself to change your path and try new things. Eventually, you WILL find your place in this industry and reap the benefits of a successful, full-time career.
Most of all, though, the best piece of advice I can give you is this: never be afraid to ask questions. Ask for help and ask for guidance whenever you need it. There will always be answers out there – as well as people who are happy to give them. Ultimately, you never know where your path will lead if you don’t ask!