UCLA Extension

Staff Spotlight: Student Affairs Advisor Suzanne Sheppard

How long have you been the Student Affairs Advisor for the Arc+ID program?

I’ve been here for almost 29 years and before that I attended the Certificate program for 7 years, graduating in 1987.  I’ve seen thousands of students pass through my doors and when I see graduates working in the field I am just so proud of their success!

What does your typical day look like?

Email, telephone calls, in person meetings with prospective and ongoing students for both the Certificate program and for the Master’s program. I also do transcript and portfolio evaluations, review resumes, and assist with connecting students with internships and jobs.

What is one big change you’ve seen within the industry over the years?

The importance of an Interior Design education! At one time, anyone with good taste could become an interior designer. But in today’s world, more concrete skills are needed. Knowledge of building codes, surface materials, environmental standards, computer design software, and proper lighting just to name a few examples. A good education prepares designers for what today’s industry is seeking in a professional- it separates an “interior designer” from an “interior decorator”.

 What are some qualities that you believe make for a successful student in the program?

Most students know within their first few classes if this program is the right fit for them. In the long run cutting corners never works so being prepared to study and invest enough time in the program will lead to success. When it comes to students who are changing careers, I would say being open to new ideas and learning different ways of doing things is key.

How important are internships for students?

Internships are career builders and the hands-on experience that it delivers is very important, especially since it may be the first time that many students will be in a design office setting. And sometimes, it’s not what they expect! Internships can really shape what a student would like to do in the industry. It can also lead to a job!

What are your job search tips for students just entering the field?

If you are new to interior design you should start compiling a portfolio of your work from the beginning of the program. You never know when an opportunity could come along! For more advanced students, we offer an Advanced Portfolio Design & Graphic Storytelling course. By the end of the course students have a personal portfolio, résumé, and sample work. In addition, students learn techniques on presentations, interviews, and client meetings. This type of course can really help polish the edges and give you the confidence for a worthy job search.  Lastly, do your research. Check out what firms big and small are seeking in candidates and focus on learning any of the skills you are lacking.

What are helpful design resources you can recommend to students?

Build a professional design network, i.e., belong to a design organization(s), like ASID and attend industry events at design hubs like the Pacific Design Center. Build and maintain your relationships from UCLA!

If you could recommend one book to students, what would it be?

I have so many, I could never pick just one! But I have to say, I still enjoy looking at hard copies of interior design magazines. Old or new, there’s just something about the striking images and the way magazines are laid out. It’s more tangible and something the internet can’t capture.

Typical, how do you spend your time away from the office?

I go to the theater, new restaurants, art exhibits, book readings and the movies. Anything that keeps me engaged and inspired! Lately, I’ve also been playing Spelling Bee, a New York Times word puzzle with my grandchildren. They’re whip smart and beat me every week!

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Thank you for your time Suzanne! The Arc+ID program is lucky to have you!

Suzanne’s office is located in the 1010 Westwood building and if you have not met Suzanne, or have any unanswered questions about the program, don’t hesitate to setup an appointment by calling (310) 794-3747.

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