College students are encouraged to gain experience outside the classroom to supplement their learning, establish a résumé, and sharpen soft skills that prepare them for careers in their desired industry and role. Interior architecture and design major Daniela Tishchenko has built a lengthy portfolio through remote and in-person internships at private companies, on tight-budget service-learning projects for New Bedford nonprofit organizations, and as a leader of an interior design-focused student club.
Interior Architecture and Design
The daughter of a floor installer, Tishchenko connected with an interior designer her father knew, who allowed her to shadow a day on the job.
"Shadowing was a great experience. I learned I loved the fact that interior design is an artistic and creative field that also has a very logical and practical side that impacts people in a very direct way," said Tishchenko. "I decided I’d like to study this full-time and see where it takes me.
"Our interior architecture and design (IAD) faculty have been so amazing and genuinely care about our success. They put in a real effort outside the classroom to help us land internships and jobs, and give us very concentrated, one-on-one advice and coaching. Stephanie McGoldrick and Rose Mary Botti-Salitsky in particular have been such amazing mentors to me, which is my favorite part about the IAD program here."
Part of Tishchenko’s mentorship has been collaborating with McGoldrick to use their design skills for service, reconfiguring lighting vestibules in New Bedford’s Museum of Glass and designing office space for the city’s Community Economic Development Center (CEDC) after their previous space was lost in a fire.
"In school, we don’t have a real, hard budget for our conceptual designs," said Tishchenko, who will graduate in just three years this spring. "These projects are a nice dose of reality where we work on strict budgets to be efficient and effective while fitting their needs and vision. It’s very logical, and more representative of the work I’ll be doing when I graduate and work for clients."
Between adding to her résumé, enhancing her learning experience, building connections, and making an impact for the good of organizations that aim to benefit their communities, these experiences have been quadruply rewarding for Tishchenko.
"To have this on my résumé tells employers that I already have real experience meeting tight budgets and working with clients, which is immensely valuable. As for my learning experience, getting to apply the things you learned in the classroom into something real makes it make more sense because you have a very real problem in front of you that has a very real impact on people you’ve met.
"It was amazing to get to meet these people and see how wide an outreach they have. Getting to help them with something as small as their office planning and lighting is important because it’ll help them do their job better, which in turn makes a positive impact on our local community."
"Daniela is a driven student who seeks opportunities not only to expand her understanding of design, but also to use her skills to support the local community," said her professor and project supervisor, Stephanie McGoldrick. "In both service projects I supervised her, Daniela was very professional, attentive to the needs of the community partners, and her design proposals were outstanding."
Off campus, Tishchenko has added valuable interior design experiences through internships with small, remote firms, New Avenue Studio and ID.+ Collective, as well as in person at a large firm, Phase Zero Design, providing herself exposure to different types of interior design and office environments.
"In a small firm, you get to do a lot more business and project management, and own a project from start to finish, whereas in a larger firm you’re delegated individual tasks to specialize on," said Tishchenko. "I’m so glad I got to experience both the personal touch of a small team and also the big family feel and office culture of a large team so I could find out what I prefer. If I ever want to branch out to start my own business in the future, the lessons learned from all three firms will be extremely valuable."
Interior architecture and design students at UMass Dartmouth are required to complete an internship as part of their curriculum, which Tishchenko says is not hard to find since her faculty have such a strong interest in connecting their students to real-world experiences.
"There’s only so much you can learn in the classroom," said Tishchenko. "It’s so beneficial to get real-world experience and training at a younger age, in a lower stakes position where your coworkers know you’re a student, than after you’ve graduated and are starting full-time. That way you still have time to change your plans, understand what you don’t like, and find your ideal career path and setting."
Ready for what’s next
"I feel super prepared to graduate and enter the workforce," said Tishchenko. "The IAD program is so strong and so focused on preparing us for successful careers through our internships, service-learning, and academics, that I’m ready to step into the real world because I’ve already had experience working in it in a lot of different facets."
Complementing experience as an intern being sent delegations, Tishchenko has also gained experience as a leader as the President of UMass Dartmouth’s American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) chapter, which aims to connect students to real-world experiences.
"As a young person, I hadn’t really had anything to lead before, and therefore didn’t necessarily think of myself as a leader," said Tishchenko. "Being President of ASID has been really fun to test myself and taught me how to delegate tasks, keep things organized, and manage a group’s morale. It’s been a great experience to prepare me not just for my entry-level role, but to grow in a career in interior design."
Tishchenko, whose classroom achievements include a 3.9 GPA and winning second place at the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) Boston Section Student Scholarship Design Competition in 2020-2021, credits her faith, effort, and the IAD program for her successes.
"All these accomplishments would be nothing if God wasn’t helping guide me. In our education, students get as much as they put in. It’s crucial to take initiative and find opportunities like internships and service-learning projects for yourself. The IAD program does a lot to help students in this direction, but that’ll only go as far as you are willing to take it yourself."