#1 Sammi Woronoff | President-Elect of IIDA-AL Discusses Networking For Interior Designers
In this podcast episode Brandon White and Sammi Woronoff cover the benefits of networking for interior designers - specifically by connecting with IIDA.
Listen for free on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
Sammi Woronoff was our guest for the first episode of our podcast. Sammi is a Michigan native and a University of Alabama Alumna. She began her career in 2019 as a commercial interior designer with a specialty in healthcare at Gresham Smith in Birmingham, Alabama. She currently serves as the President-Elect of IIDA Alabama.
Connect with Sammi on LinkedIn.
Tips for Landing an Internship and Getting the Most from It
Whether you are preparing to apply for an internship or are already going through the interview process, there are three important tips that Sammi lays out.
When interviewing for your internship, you need to be straightforward and honest with your intentions. Sammi encourages students to be as transparent as possible about whether or not they are willing to relocate. You won’t hurt anyone’s feelings by telling them that you’d like to live in a specific place. It’s much better to be honest about this on the front end than to start a job and be unhappy with the location after the fact.
Authenticity can help make it a win-win for you and your prospective employer. Sammi says, “Be your authentic self through the whole process. You don't want to put on a facade of someone you think that the firm wants. You don’t want to be somewhere that they don’t accept you for who you are.”
Internships should be an immersive learning experience, not an experience that requires or expects perfection. "It's okay to not know everything (...) being an intern is a learning curve and employers should understand that."
Curiosity ignites fire in the minds of those willing to learn. Sammi explains that being curious is a sign of someone interested in learning, and that curiosity will only further you in your career.
Sammi continues by saying, “Be curious about the firm. Be curious about everything they have to offer you. Also be curious about anything design related that maybe they're not putting in front of you. What else do you want to know about the profession? Don’t hesitate to ask.”
The Benefits Of IIDA For Students and Current Professionals
Sammi says it best when she says, “I owe IIDA 90% of where I am. In my career, getting through the major I went through, and staying in Birmingham - almost everything where I am right now, I give credit to IIDA.”
The International Interior Design Association (IIDA) presents an amazing opportunity for students and current designers. IIDA advances the design profession and gives members a chance to connect with their local design community.
Sammi met her now co-worker, Katie Johnson at Gresham Smith, during the IIDA Student Day during her junior year of college. By attending this event and using her networking skills, Sammi was able to land an internship with Gresham that led to her full-time position there.
“Every rep I’ve met, every designer I have met, and every event I have attended have made me so much more connected through the industry. I’ve made friends and it's been a true community to me,” Sammi explained. “I was just so touched by how much of an impact everybody had on my life. I felt wanted here, and I wanted to be a part of this community. I have made so many friendships through it. I definitely give IIDA the credit.”
Serving on the Board and on Committees in IIDA
Sammi explained that many students who take part in IIDA go on to become members of their state chapter and take on board positions post-grad. She took this path and currently serves as President-Elect for the Alabama chapter after multiple other board positions.
Becoming a member of the board can seem a bit daunting, but Sammi explains that it’s very rewarding and you’ll get out of it what you put into it. Serving on a committee is a great “middle ground” between being an active member and serving on the board.
“At the bottom of every chapter email and monthly newsletter there’s a button that prompts you to email Mary Claire (current Alabama chapter President) or myself if you’d like to learn more. That’s a great first step if you’re interested in joining the board or serving on a committee but aren’t quite sure where to start.”
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