Maximising Your Career Success


By Polly Williams, founder of Camberyard

Whilst finalising my lecture to be delivered to the next wave of KLC design graduates, I kept asking myself ‘What should a design graduate know when taking their first steps into the design world professionally?’

You are no doubt a highly-skilled, newly qualified, creative interior designer, but what you should contemplate as you submit your final pieces of work is this: what will set you apart from your contemporaries as you chase your dream career? Perhaps those closest to you at the KLC have already taken a step in the right direction. Maybe they have a plan, whilst you have not yet considered how to set your career action plan in place.

So when graduates ask what the next practical steps are, my advice is always the same. You must take time to work out a career action plan now, so you know what kind of designer you want to be and how to realise your goals going forward.

It’s vital to consider the following questions:

  • Are you going to work full time/part time?
  • Do you ultimately aspire to work for an interior design studio or set up your own practice?
  • What is your biggest motivation: career, money, industry recognition, continually educating yourself?
  • What additional skills do you need to land your dream job?

It is also important to understand that life is a series of choices:

  • Maximise opportunities and spend time establishing your interior design career goals before you embark on your career journey
  • Lay the foundations of your design career, which involves being the would-be interior designer with a PLAN!
  • Play to your strengths and your perceived weaknesses

Graduates must consider which parts of their career action plan should be enhanced and built on, e.g. CV preparation, interview techniques, mentoring aspiring interior designers and much more. It’s important to understand your USP, by considering a 360-degree holistic framework to include lifestyle, ambition and ability.

Furthermore, when it comes to laying the foundations of your own design career, this analogy of house building is helpful, to show how you can benefit from a clear and concise career action plan.

Visualise that Martha and Meg are sisters, given adjacent plots of land to build their dream homes. Martha and Meg build their homes, both magnificent and both individually unique and designed to adapt to their lifestyle. Martha has a family and has concentrated on the bedrooms and a playroom, whilst Meg is single and always dreamed of an open plan living space. Both houses are bespoke and beautiful.

Now imagine that one night, the rain falls and the floods came and the waters rise. In the morning, only one house is left standing. Martha still has her dream house, with her children protected and warm and safe. But Meg’s home lies six feet deep in water; all her treasured possessions are ruined. Ask yourself why? The answer is clear: Martha took the time at the beginning of her build to consult the land registry. She learned the land was in flood plains, and so consulted with her architect and leading industry experts to build her house on stilts, with a water clearing pump. Martha protected her house, enabling her to have a secure and stable home. Meg, in her excitement, only focused on the creative design, and whilst it looked aesthetically beautiful, it had its foundations built into the ground where floods could come and wash her home away.

This analogy shows the benefit of laying your career foundations as you would consult the land registry or architects BEFORE building your dream home. There are certain skills you can learn now and put in place, which means you have the solid foundations of your design career. You will have really soul searched and considered what kind of interior designer you want to be and how you can reach that destination.

You will have stopped, breathed and contemplated these questions:

  • Who do I want to be as a working interior designer?
  • What are my motivations and aspirations, strengths and weaknesses?
  • How am I going to become the kind of interior designer that I dreamed I could be – either working in a design studio or one day opening my own design practice?

The Essentials

What are the key elements that you can do now to put you ahead of the rest?

Phase One
In order to realise your full potential and develop your USP, first establish who you want to work for, why you want to work for them and how you will get hired.

Phase Two
Next, CV preparation is key to you getting an interview at your dream practice. Interview techniques – have you spent time researching how and why your dream design studio would hire you? Presentation skills – once you have your dream interview, how can you ensure they hire you above the other graduates also looking for their first job?

Phase Three
Lastly, find access to networking opportunities and understand how to use social media to gain visibility in the market. Pinpoint who to focus on and how, using trade and retail shows to connect with your industry amongst other aspects of career networking.

Ask yourself – when it comes to creating and designing your career path, quite simply, where do you need help? At Camberyard, we mentor and guide graduates to establish the answers to those questions of Who, Why and What. We ensure the all-important foundations are firmly in place, before you embark on this next exciting phase as a graduate KLC Interior Designer.

Camberyard is an advisory firm founded by Polly Williams, offering bespoke marketing and business solutions to interior designers. Polly works with her clients to develop their business strategy, increase revenue and gain media exposure. With over 12 years’ experience advising a leading interior design studio in London, Polly knows how to launch a design brand and make it an international success.