The Careers Adviser

'How do I become an interior designer? And how can I improve my CV cheaply?'
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The Independent Online

The right course?

I want to become an interior designer and have just started a one-year foundation course that I am not sure is suitable. It seems to be too architectural and not creative enough. How do you get into this business and do you need a degree?

First of all there are no set routes into this job. You could study for a degree, or you might make it if you have a huge amount of talent and an excellent portfolio. In between, there are all sorts of HNDs, foundation degrees, City & Guilds courses and BTEC studies. The course you are on is described as suitable for interior design, providing a good grounding in theory you will need and a chance to get practical work experience.

Interior design is quite linked to architecture: the British Interior Design Association (BIDA) says a professional designer provides a full consultancy service and undertakes, among other things, design analysis, space planning and inspection of work, using specialised knowledge about things such as building systems and components. If you feel your present course is not for you, it might be you could find one with a slightly different emphasis. Or it might be that you would be happier looking at interior decorating, where you undertake entire decorative schemes but crucially don't enter into building or supervisory contracts.

Of course, there are grey areas between the two jobs, and you need to feel your way around. BIDA (www.bida.org) describes on its website what a professional interior-design course should encompass, and lists course options. Whichever way you pursue your aim, though, don't forget that your portfolio will be absolutely vital in proving your capabilities to people, and you should also seek out work experience to give you practical skills. If you do need to transfer to another course in the same institution or another institution altogether, it would be best to contact your student adviser to do this as soon as possible, or you may not be accepted on the new course.

CV checking

I think I need my CV checked because I'm not getting the results I want from job applications. I've left university, so who can I ask apart from friends and family? I can't afford to pay much.

You're right to get it checked as it's difficult to reach an impartial view on your own CV. Aside from simple spelling and grammar checks, having someone else look over it means you are less likely to fall prey to temptations such as leaving in detail not relevant to the task in hand. You might still be able to ask your old university careers service for help. They vary in the services they offer to former students, but the vast majority offer full services to graduates for at least a year after leaving university, and many for up to three years. Some offer e-guidance to graduates who have moved away.

Details about individual services are available on the Graduate Prospects site (www.prospects.ac.uk), which also offers a CV surgery up to five years after you have graduated. It's a free, confidential service, providing feedback from career consultants on CVs filled in online. If you don't want to fill in a template and wish to send in your own CV for evaluation, it will cost £45.



Careers adviser: Julia Yates, head of careers, University of the Arts, London.



Send your queries to Caroline Haydon at 'The Independent', Education Desk, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; or fax 020-7005 2143; or email to chaydon@blueyonder.co.uk

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