Before their bachelor of science degree in interior design will be awarded, seniors in the Interior Design Program must complete an internship that relates to interior design.
“We require an internship because it gives students that working experience to really understand the profession they graduate in,” said Beth Miller, director of the program who is also currently serving as interim associate dean for the College of Architecture, Art and Design.
“Ninety-six percent of the time, firms don’t want our interns to leave, so students get offered a job,” said Miller. “It’s an opportunity for students to gain experience and for companies, with no more than a 10-week obligation, to see if a particular graduate would be a fit for their company.”
This summer, the entire senior class, 16 students in all, interned at firms across the country, and their final requirement for their degree was to present their internship experience at the Interior Design Program Convocation on September 6.
“This summer, we had interns at the number one hospitality firm and also the number one firm in the U.S. according to Interior Design magazine’s rankings,” said Beth Miller.
Keeton Craig spent 10 weeks as a professional intern this summer at Gensler in Dallas, Texas, the top firm in the nation Miller referred to.
Craig worked on a variety of projects, and her responsibilities included site analysis visits, accessories purchasing and fit-outs, furniture punches, architectural punches, construction documents and redlines, furniture and finished selections, a due diligence package and assembling project presentations.
Interns at Gensler also work on a special project each Friday in groups. The groups then present their final projects to the entire office at the end of the internship. Craig’s group was challenged to develop an urban space in a neglected portion of downtown Dallas. Her group’s solution was a 20-acre, mixed-used urban development that included 10 acres of commercial and residential development and 10 acres of open green or park space.
“I am glad that we were required to do an internship,” said Craig. “I feel that the internship gave a glimpse of real-world interior design work.
Craig is waiting to hear back about a job in Gensler’s Atlanta, Ga., office, and she has been offered a position with Gensler in Dallas if the Atlanta position doesn’t work out.
Meg Jackson spent her summer interning in Atlanta at Hirsch Bedner Associates, the top hospitality firm Miller mentioned. HBA is also ranked fifth in the nation for the top firms for 2013 in Interior Design magazine.
“This summer I learned a lot about the world and other cultures,” said Jackson. “HBA is an international company, and right from the get-go I was thrown onto a project in Manila, Philippines. Safe to say, I began really studying my maps and world geography!”
Jackson said she was also challenged with learning about the hundreds of different vendors HBA works with for their wall coverings, furniture pieces, flooring and more.
“I also have learned so much about collaborative work,” said Jackson. “Everyone at HBA has their own team, and I was so lucky to get a great team. We all work on the same project, but we all have our own specialty and something different to bring to the table.”
Jackson said the Interior Design Program definitely prepared her for the internship.
“I have so much to learn, but I felt that because of my four years’ experience in the Interior Design program at MSU, I started off with a great foundation. Our ID program gave us so many project opportunities for our portfolio that were all very different. All of these projects included very unique 3D renderings developed from a computer program known as Revit. Some schools have yet to introduce the program, so it was really cool to say that I know how to use it.”
Jackson also credits the program’s internship requirement for her job offer. Halfway into her internship, Jackson was offered a full-time position, and she started as a junior designer at the firm on August 26.
“Honestly, to get your foot in the door at any top design firm around the country, an internship is a strict requirement. I would not have even been a candidate for the junior designer position at HBA if I had not been an intern this summer,” she said. “I thank MSU every day for what the Interior Design program has taught me.”
The following seniors in the Interior Design Program finished up their undergraduate degree with internships this summer:
ASHVILLE, Ala. — Emily Stark Houston, daughter of Rusty Stark and Cindy Zuercher, interned at Commercial Design Interiors in Baton Rouge, La.
BILOXI — Amanda Scroubelos, daughter of Ruth and Frankie Montana, interned at Taylor Design Group in Biloxi.
BRANDON — Corley Ingram, daughter of Betsy Ingram, interned at Upholstery by Design in Jackson.
BRANDON — Ashley Wooten, daughter of Russell Wooten, interned at SummerHouse in Ridgeland.
CINCINNATI, Ohio — Kellie Wicktora, daughter of Mark and Laurie Wicktora, interned at Duralee in Atlanta, Ga.
CUBA, Ala. — Taylor Leigh Webb, daughter of Michael and Pam Web, interned at Callison in Dallas, Texas.
GERMANTOWN, Tenn. — Megan Feraci, daughter of Tom and Teresa Sporer, interned at Renaissance Group in Memphis, Tenn.
GERMANTOWN, Tenn. — Meg Jackson, daughter of Kevin and Allison Jackson, interned at Hirsch Bedner Associates in Atlanta, Ga.
JACKSON — Mai Truong, daughter of Thuy Nguyen, interned at Ross Furniture in Flowood.
PELHAM, Ala. — Faith Blocker, daughter of John and Maria Blocker, interned at Williams Blackstock Architects in Birmingham, Ala.
RIDGELAND — Laura Dye, daughter of Bobby and Darnell Dye, interned at Barry Dixon Inc. in Warrenton, Va.
RIDGELAND — Blake Stringer, son of Jimmy and Jan Stringer, interned at Franklin Furniture Corporation in Houston.
STARKVILLE — Keeton Craig, daughter of Dan and Laurie Craig, interned at Gensler in Dallas, Texas.
SUNFLOWER — Meredith Sledge, daughter of Robert and Lisa Sledge, interned at Eley|Barkley PA in Cleveland.
TERRY — Lauren Warren, daughter of Roger and Shari Collin, interned at Erlanger Health System in Chattanooga, Tenn.
TUPELO — Millie Pridmore, daughter of Terri Armstrong and Kevin Pridmore, interned at Fleming Associates Architects in Memphis, Tenn.
Read the story on MSU’s website.