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Home » News » IA&D Recaps The 2021 Career Shaping Event and Alumni Awards

IA&D Recaps The 2021 Career Shaping Event and Alumni Awards

Published March 18, 2021

The Department of Interior Architecture and Design is celebrating the success of the 2021 Career Fair, an annual event that highlights interior design practice and students’ successful transition to the working world.  This year featured a Q&A panel composed of six design professionals as well as a celebration of the 2021 Alumni Awards, which included panel speaker awardees Tracie Kelly, Jean Freeman, and Sybil Barrido.

The professional panel that kicked off the event was made up of six industry experts, including Tracy Kelly, who leads the Bay Area Real Estate portfolio within the Workplace + Real Estate team at Uber; Jean Freeman who served on the Board of Directors for IDEC, including a term as President; Sybil Barrido, who is a founder and principal designer at SJVD Design and co‐founded The Center for Interior Design Executive Resources; Taryn Tschetter who serves as an Associate and Senior Project Manager in the HOK Tampa Interiors Department; Dawn Chisholm Meinhardt who has worked at Corgan Associates for 37+ years; and Liza Plunkett, an FSU alum who has gained experience as a designer focused on corporate projects in Atlanta, Georgia.

Click to Watch the Alumni Awards for IAD

A major topic of discussion was the current state of the design industry as a whole, and how that affects interns and new hires in the present and forecasted economy. The deep impacts of COVID-19 will continue to have lasting effects in the professional design practice. However, the experience and knowledge that these experts were able to pass along to students during the 2021 Career Fair referenced helpful strategies needed to successfully adapt to the ever-changing professional design realm.

Though this event was held via Zoom, students were able to communicate with design experts and receive advice on current hiring practices, remote and in-person scenarios, and how to prepare for interviewing and hiring. Students also attended virtual breakout rooms where they were able to consult with industry professionals in a one-on-one setting. The students that were in attendance of the IA&D Career Shaping Event learned valuable skills, both soft and hard, that will better prepare them to break into the professional design space.

Students were encouraged to prepare for this event prior to attending. Kaitlyn Kant, a 4th year IA&G student, said, “I prepared for the career fair by researching the list of firms that was provided to us prior to the event. After researching the firms, I focused on a few firms that have offices in my desired location and that I felt reflected a work environment/design team that I would be interested in being a part of.” Kant said this preparation enabled her to respond confidently in the virtual breakout rooms where she was able to interact with industry professionals one-on-one. “This event has formed valuable professional connections for my future career as an interior designer.,” said Kant. “The career fair has also rewarded me with interview opportunities that I am extremely grateful for”

Approximately 70 students participated in this year’s event. Jillian Dradzynski, a 4th year Interior Architecture and Design Student states that one of the most rewarding aspects of the Career Fair was “meeting with representatives from the firms and listening to the speakers instilled an even stronger sense of community within the interior design profession.” Through this event students are able to create lasting connections that help them develop professionally. “My biggest takeaway from the day was how overwhelmingly positive everyone was about the student work, the job market, and what their particular firm was working on,” said Dradzynski. “Meeting with representatives from the firms and listening to the speakers instilled an even stronger sense of community within the interior design profession. I spoke to several representatives that were incredibly optimistic about the job market and gave insightful tips for applying to jobs.”

For more information regarding the Interior Architecture and Design Department visit