Jan 04, 2022 By IIDA HQ
Building Foundations Through Mentorship
Zane Land, Ind. IIDA shares her experiences as a mentor, and the importance of mentoring young designers and the value of exposing students to a range of careers in design.
By IIDA HQ Jan 04, 2022
Published in

Every spring since 2011, IIDA has provided over 500 student members the opportunity to be matched with a mentor working in the interior design industry. Mentors work across the industry as interior designers, product designers, manufacturers, sales reps, and more, and provide students with a glimpse into the breadth of career paths available to them, and connections that can offer guidance as they enter the workforce. This program has equipped students with the tools, guidance, and skills they need to start planning to map out their careers, as well as with connections that can potentially offer employment opportunities in the future.

For professionals, the program offers opportunities to give back to their community and connect with students in a way that doesn’t only feel good, but provides access to up and coming talent, new ideas, and building connections with emerging designers.

Industry members Wilsonart further support students in their mentorship experience through providing a prize for an essay summarizing their experiences in the mentoring program, the annual Wilsonart Student Essay Program. The winning essays are an excellent glimpse into the range of experiences and lessons that students take away from this program every year. Read the 2021 winning essay by Jonny Bywater, Student IIDA here.

Yvonne Yip, Student IIDA points out in her 2020 essay that “IIDA’s Student Mentoring Program is a wonderful way for aspiring interior designers to experience and learn what it is like to work in the field of interior design. This experience was invaluable in exposing me to the world of institutional design, meeting inspirational mentors includ

Zane Land, Ind. IIDA, specifications representative who has been with Wilsonart since 1988 has been participating in the program as a mentor for five years, introducing students to her role in education the architecture and design community on Wilsonart products through presentations, individual meetings, manufacturing plant tours, providing samples and updates and involvement in local design/architect associations.

What have been some of your most memorable connections/experiences through this program?

I love meeting future designers, it’s great to get to know them and what direction/type of work they’re going in. I’ve had several wonderful connections/experiences. I’ve had students who participated in the IIDA mentoring program shadow me and get hired at the firms we visited, that is both rewarding for me and the student.

What is the importance of participating as a student/professional?

I think participating in this program by shadowing a product representative is beneficial for students, it can get your foot in the door. Reps are able to introduce students to most any firm they would like to visit with. Students will be able to see, get to know firms better, ask questions that they would normally not be able to have access to without the connections of a product rep. If a student is not sure what path, what firm they want to work in this will help in their decision.

Zane Land, Ind. IIDA, specifications representative at Wilsonart
Zane Land, Ind. IIDA, specifications representative at Wilsonart

Why is it important for students to be exposed to all sides of the industry—from sales, to manufacturing, to product design in addition to design?

I think it’s important for students to have exposure to all sides of the industry to see what path excites them the most and what they think they will be most successful at. The more exposure, the better your decision will be on the path you will take to be happy and successful.

How has providing mentorship for young designers enriched your career?

I’ve enjoyed seeing the participating students find their path, blossom in the field they have chosen, now many of them are my customers and designers I call on.

Learn more about registering for the 2022 Student Mentoring Program as a student or mentor here.

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