How to get the most out of your Interior Design work placement

Each year, two or three USW BA (Hons) Interior Design students undertake a year’s work experience at design company, Interaction

For twelve months these students receive hands-on experience of working in the commercial design industry and a chance to increase their design skills.

“The amount I have learnt during this year and the experience I’m gaining is going to be invaluable, not only for completing my course but for securing work in the future”, explains student Courtney Rees.

Dan Francis, Studio Manager at Interaction, adds: "We have developed a strong relationship with the University of South Wales and have successfully supported students for four consecutive years on their placement year. We also offer them the opportunity to kick start their career with a full time position after graduation.

Those who have demonstrated a commitment to learning seem to have got the most out of their year here. If they have a desire to develop their knowledge and are willing to get stuck-in they usually do really well.” 

Dan gave us his top tips for getting the most out of a work experience placement:

1. Enthusiasm

Your skills are important but your enthusiasm to learn and be a part of the team is just as important.  Embrace new challenges, show an interest in the projects and be eager to take on any tasks offered.

2. Listen

Whether it’s listening to what people are telling you, or absorbing the general office chat between colleagues about different projects. Soak up the knowledge and really listen to instructions.

3. Ask questions

Never be afraid to ask. Interaction are a company that encourages questions and if someone doesn’t know the answer we will find someone who does for you.  Do not sit at your computer worried or confused - just ask.

4. Make notes

Grab a notebook and scribble down anything that might be useful. Jot down handy computer shortcuts, the location of key documents, important deadlines and details about a task you’ve been given. This reduces the need to repeatedly ask the same questions and helps to keep you organised.

5. Become part of the team

Help as much as you can and offer suggestions if you have any. When the team has a project deadline see if you can contribute.  Whatever way you can get involved – big or small - show you want to help, even if it means staying beyond 5.30pm. 

6. Get feedback

Be open to receiving constructive feedback throughout your work placement.  Asking your manager for advice on where you could improve and then acting on that advice shows you have a desire to progress and learn. 

7. Gain knowledge

Designing amazing spaces isn’t just about choosing colours, picking furniture or incorporating the latest design trend, it’s also about managing budgets, meeting deadlines and adhering to building regulations. Learn from project managers, site managers, accounts and designers about these areas of the business. This will help you achieve a more rounded knowledge of office design.

8. Read up on building regulations

Building regulations aren’t known for being exciting. Certainly, reading the approved building regulation, document M , could be a wonderful cure for insomnia but building regulations are VITAL to the work we do.  Becoming familiar with key features would be very useful.

9. Immerse yourself in the industry

This is your opportunity to get fully engrossed in the Interior Design world. Discover the plethora of cool and funky furniture manufacturers and suppliers, visit their showrooms or talk to the account managers about their latest designs. Go to trade shows, read industry magazines and websites. 

10. Be inspired

Take any opportunity to learn from the designers around you and other designers in the industry.  Study their portfolio of work and see if you can discover what inspired them.  Get those creative juices flowing and take your imagination on an inspired journey. After all, you are the future of interior design.