Interior Designers Point the Way

On Thursday, November 1st, three Interior Design alumni from NESADSU presented a panel presentation to current students as part of Suffolk’s Career Fest 2012. Presented by the Interior Design program in conjunction with Career Services, and billed as the “inside scoop on … projects, firms and career paths”, Dora Elliott (Interior Design 2009), Rebecca Goldstein (Interior Design 2012) and Danielle Meeker (MA in Interior Design 2012) talked about their experiences and showed slides of their firms’ work.

Dora, who is now an interior designer with the residential firm of Wells & Fox, with offices in Boston and Chicago, began her career there with an internship, a fairly common path from NESADSU to a career. Rebecca, on the other hand, parlayed her Senior Studio project directly into her current position at Winter Street Architects in Salem (MA). One of her exit portfolio reviewers, a Senior Principal there, was impressed enough by her senior project to offer her a job.

Danielle Meeker, the only Masters degree graduate in the group, had a very different path to success. With an undergraduate liberal arts degree and teaching background, she started her career in a residential firm but quickly decided that was not where she wanted to be. Landing a job with Gensler in Boston (and with offices across the world), she started out doing research for the firm, then morphed into design. Now she does a bit of everything and loves it all.

A question-and-answer period after the presentations yielded questions on a number of topics, one of which concerned the salary levels that entering designers can look forward to. The consensus seemed to be that commercial design firms pay between $40,000 and $50,000 to starting workers, often with generous benefit packages attached. Residential firms pay a bit less, perhaps in the high $30’s to the low $40’s, and all agreed that the smaller the firm, the nearer they would be to the low end of the scale.

The three designers, all with fulfilling careers, provided an interesting, humorous, helpful and encouraging look at “the real world”. Other alums interested in taking part in similar panels should contact Sara Chadwick at to be connected to the appropriate Program Director.