There are always certain job fields that are highly competitive, and in a tough economy, competitive can seem more like impenetrable. There are those, however, who will do whatever it takes to achieve their dreams, who don’t wait for opportunity to knock; they chase it down.
Jane Gordon’s dream is to be an interior designer. The fall 2011 University of Tennessee at Martin graduate from Covington, who joins numerous family members as a UT Martin alum, knew she would need an internship to ever be considered for junior interior design positions after graduation. With perseverance she landed the opportunity of a lifetime as an intern at KNA Design in Los Angeles, Calif.
“I just kept applying to lots of different internships,” said the interior design and business management double major, explaining that through a long string of connections she heard about the position at KNA and secured a phone interview.
Despite battling the flu during her interview, she was hired, and the next thing she knew she was driving from West Tennessee to California.
“I had no idea what to expect,” Gordon said laughing. “I just showed up, they gave us a tour and said just go around and ask the designers what they need. They had about ten different designers at the firm, and you would just walk around and say, “What can I help you with.’”
At KNA Gordon was exposed to and helped work on high-end residential and hospitality projects. During her three months at the firm in the summer of 2011 she assisted with projects for Caesar’s Palace and Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian resort.
“If they needed a certain piece of furniture and they couldn’t find it, I would help them find it, or they might say, ‘I want some green,’ and I would go and pick up 100 different samples of green fabric,” Gordon said.
Gordon said her instruction at UT Martin did help in preparing design boards and reading and labeling floor plans. She also gained unique experience her sophomore year of college when her parents, who own rental property in Covington, bought a house in Martin with serious design flaws. Gordon was allowed to manage the renovation, and the value of the home increased by about 35 thousand dollars when the improvements were complete.
During her final semester at UT Martin, Gordon’s drive kicked in again as she began vehemently applying for junior design positions, which she hopes will help her work up to a senior design position.
“Getting the internship was a lot of networking, and then to get into the industry will be even harder,” Gordon said, adding that most interior design jobs are not posted. “You just kind of email random people and see if they like you. Interior design professionals are more about ‘the feel’ of it. That’s probably the hardest part.”
After sending out countless introductory “cold-emails” she has a few job prospects and at least one interview nailed down in Los Angeles.
“You just have to keep putting yourself out there,” Gordon said to other students hoping to enter the interior design field.