Career Transition: 5 Easy Steps to Try before you Buy

Interior Design Edition.

About a year ago, I started to brainstorm potential passions that could evolve into a new career, since I wasn’t feeling fulfilled with my current choice. Here are the 5 easy steps I took that helped me answer the question: “To be? Or not to be?” Good Ol’ Monsieur Shakespeare…  

1.       Pay attention to how you used to spent your time as a Kid.

Growing up as an only child, I had tons of time on my hands, coupled with an overactive imagination. Aside from play dates with my imaginary friend (don’t judge), I enjoyed:

  • Drawing for hours. I even did a Bristol board sized pencil crayon drawing of a sleepover, with all the furniture details of the bedroom. I wish I still had it to show you! This indicated that I had patience when doing something I loved, was visual and got satisfaction out of creating something from nothing.
  • Touring people’s houses. Whenever I visited a house for the first time, I would demand to be taken on a tour. I was fascinated by layouts and furniture choices – at the age of 8.

2.      Pay attention to what you enjoy now.

I’m telling you, I was a “special” kid. But I had to see if there were any recent incarnations of this ancient passion lurking. The Signs:

  • HGTV. A year or two ago, I was glued to this channel. It inspired me to take on home projects (I’ve always been crafty).  Who doesn’t love a good makeover?
  • New Home Makeover. After 16 years, my parents finally moved into a new house (last Feb) and I got a serious case of the “jumpy claps” when we were looking for granite, carpets, furniture, and the like. I would walk into a store and feel hyper and energized – a feast for the senses.
  • Homesense. Serious addiction.

This is how I spent my downtime in grade 8.

3.       Test out your passion now, in a small & manageable way.

I knew if I wanted to pursue design, I would need to go back to school for it and I would need to produce a portfolio. Considering I hadn’t drawn since grade 8, I researched various art schools.

I ended up enrolling in a 12-week course on Saturday afternoons at the Toronto School of Art. I looked forward to it every week and felt immense satisfaction when I learned a new technique. Side note: there were 4 weeks of nude model drawing included. I’ll save those stories for another day.

What I noticed was that I didn’t make enough time to practice on my own in between classes, and when the course was over, I didn’t continue drawing on my own.

The Output after 12 weeks of classes. Pink!

Rated PG-13. Viewer discretion is advised.

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 4.       Speak to Several People working in the industry.

I spoke to three people with three different perspectives. Here are the insights:

  • Experienced Architect in retail industry à He pointed out that designing retail spaces (i.e. Yorkdale) wasn’t as creative or fulfilling as I initially thought design to be. Although there was the lure of global travel and high profile projects, the project management aspect and silo roles in a large organization were highlighted.
  • Thriving condo design stylist à Around the same time, I ran into Lisa Canning from my high school, a couple years my senior, who had made the transition from fashion stylist, to design stylist. She is self employed and very positive about her career path, although acknowledging the difficulties of setting up shop. Find out why she loves design at condosbycanning.com.  
  • Jaded interior designer à I also made another serendipitous connection to the design world, and got a very balanced view of the industry. She had done a previous business and arts degree, before enrolling in a 4 year university program for interior design.

As I was considering the same program, she pointed out that it did not provide a practical education or networking connections and that she had to do a lot of her own learning in terms of getting certified with the builder code, taking hands-on college courses and reading books to learn the skills needed in the field. She encouraged me to take a 1 year college certificate and learn the code on my own instead. But to first enrol in an intro to design class – if I was extremely passionate and turned on by this class, then the journey would be worth it.  

She also pointed out the lack of work life balance in the field, and that only 20% of her time was spent on the creative aspect that she enjoyed. The rest was focused on budget, time and project management – as well as chasing down payments from personal home clients.

I was really thankful for all three perspectives. At this point, I began to doubt this path.

5.       Figure out what motivates you.  Does it get fulfilled with this passion?

When it came down to it, I realized I want to entertain and inspire people to live a more authentic and fulfilling life out of “something” that I create. And I want to do it on a more mass scale.

While interior designers create inspiring and/or functional spaces for their clients, it is one on one, and it doesn’t necessarily lead to the client switching careers or exiting a toxic relationship or taking a trip they were putting off.

Designers also don’t have complete control over the final output, because they have to ultimately please and satisfy the client’s vision, while gently pushing their ideas and point of view.

After all that, I decided to put this career option back on the shelf. However, I did have an amazing time decorating my bathroom and bedroom and I’ll be sharing those finds with you soon!

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