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Feb 21, 2023 By Yasmin Spiro
OFS Student Roundtable
Tennessee State students gathered for a panel led by IIDA EVP and CEO, Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, to explore building careers in design.
By Yasmin Spiro Feb 21, 2023
Published in

OFS and IIDA convened a panel of design leaders for an engaging conversation and Q&A with students on the campus of Tennessee State, to discuss how to build a career in design—from internships, mentorships, and job applications, to navigating an early design career. We were fortunate to have join the conversation Sofia Acosta, Assoc. IIDA, Gensler; Mike Johnson II, IIDA director of interiors, Hickock Cole, and Tonya Spry, director of human resources, Gresham Smith, in dialogue with IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO, Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA.

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Group shot of Cheryl Durst and panelists in Nashville.
Photo By Curtis Crow
Group shot of Cheryl Durst and panelists in Nashville.
Photo By Curtis Crow
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Sofia Acosta, Mike Johnson II and Tonya Spry discuss how to build a career in design.
Photo By Curtis Crow
Sofia Acosta, Mike Johnson II and Tonya Spry discuss how to build a career in design.
Photo By Curtis Crow

Acosta and Johnson shared a few of their experiences that led them to the design profession, some of the challenges and opportunities, and the importance of building and maintaining community. Both designers have been actively involved in their IIDA communities and continue to mentor and support emerging designers and peers. Spry knows all too well the work it takes to be noticed and to be hired for emerging designers entering the professional realm. The panel discussed some of the important things a student should be doing while in school, and as they enter the job market, and the new skill sets that design firms are looking for now.

While the past few years have been complicated with multiple pandemics, we’ve also faced important conversations on race and equity that have been catalysts for the start of long overdue change in our industry and others. The panel addressed how this is reflected in their own practices and professional lives, and how we can collectively affect change as an industry.

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Cheryl Durst supports panelists in their thoughts and ideas.
Photo By Curtis Crow
Cheryl Durst supports panelists in their thoughts and ideas.
Photo By Curtis Crow
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Panelists continue discuss navigating the design industry from each of their professional perspectives.
Photo By Curtis Crow
Panelists continue discuss navigating the design industry from each of their professional perspectives.
Photo By Curtis Crow

This program is part of the OFS "Imagine a Place" podcast series. Learn more about the series here and look out for the release of the podcast in April.

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