It is 1:20 p.m. and while other East students are trying to pinch themselves awake in class, senior Maria Reyes is hard at work. Her desk at the NSPJ Architects design firm is covered with plans to file away and sticky notes with requests to look up pictures of tile and decorations. After completing these necessary daily jobs, she waters various plants scattered throughout the office and enters different companies and projects into NSPJ’s database.
Reyes didn’t quite know what to expect as an intern at a design firm, but the chores are all small steps towards her goal of being an interior designer.
She always enjoyed designing random projects that involved art and watching shows like Trading Spaces on TLC and HGTV, so when Reyes found out at the end of her freshman year that East had an interior design class, it seemed like an obvious match. Ultimately though, her interest ties back to her love of art. With classes like Commercial Art and Drawing under her belt, she feels prepared for the visual aspect of Interior Design.
“I feel like I have a pretty good eye for style,” Reyes said. “And a lot of it comes from art.”
In Interior Design I, Reyes learned about the elements and principles of design, along with color theory and schemes. Her favorite activity was the final project, where students had to create a scale drawing of an apartment and then design the entire space.
“I liked how you got to use all the design styles, and everything we learned came together at the end,” Reyes said.
Interior Design II reviews the elements and principles of design, as well, but students design an entire house for their final projects. The class also incorporates current trends and styles, ranging from French Country to Mid-Century Modern.
“There’s a lot of different cool styles I’m into,” Reyes said. “Right now I like modern, but not really, really modern. There’s so many [styles] to choose from.”
Students that have taken Interior Design I or II can even count the classes towards college credit instead of having to take certain introductory design classes in college.
Reyes is currently enrolled in Interior Design III. Third-year students are involved in a combination of in-class applications and on-the job training with teacher Marsha Boyer. During their sixth-hour block, students get to apply information learned during Interior Design I and II.
“They have to actually follow rules, but they get to use more creativity,” Boyer said.
Their seventh-hour block is dedicated to OJT, where students must hold some form of a job or internship to make up for the five hours of school they miss in a week, whether it be paid or unpaid.
“It’s a chance for them to see their knowledge working through professional experience,” Boyer said.
Reyes didn’t have any solid ideas of where she would like to work, so Boyer suggested she apply as an intern for NSPJ Architects. Boyer had met with them last spring to see if they would be interested in hiring an intern during the year.
“As the Interior Design coordinator for the district, I try to guide them towards good jobs,” Boyer said. “But it’s up to them and the employer whether or not the job will work.”
Reyes was responsible for calling NSPJ to request an appointment and application for the internship. On Aug. 21, after being interviewed about her experience and the company’s expectations, Reyes was immediately offered the job. A tour of the office and a map of desks and their owners’ names helped Reyes become familiar with the building she’d be spending every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in after school for at least the first semester of her senior year.
NSPJ typically looks for interns that will be on time with a positive attitude and a good appearance to represent their company. Reyes met all of their expectations. She is even able to work individually with NSPJs designer, Lori Schiesen although everyone in the office is able to utilize her help.
“Organizing the entire library of samples was probably the worst thing I’ve had to do so far,” Reyes said. “But alphabetizing representatives from different companies was pretty bad too.”
But Reyes does get to enjoy perks from her participation, like shopping for clients’ products with Schiesen.
“It’s a good experience to see how she works with her clients and seeing all that is done to make sure things fit well with the plans,” Reyes said.
Schiesen also hopes to involve Reyes more in the client environment in the near future. And although scheduling conflicts have prevented Reyes from involvement in recent client meetings, she looks forward to more inclusion as her experience grows. But both feel as though they gain from the experience.
“I get the benefit of having somebody that’s capable of doing things I don’t have time to do,” Schiesen said. “It’s like an extra set of eyes to represent the proper image to a client.”