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Oops I did it again……

So its been about eight weeks now since beginning my job hunt for a second time, and I have been busy sending out a revamped version of my CV to selected interior design companies asking for either paid employment or work experience.

Even though I have received a lot of wonderfully positive responses to jobs I have applied for and CV’s I have sent out, before all these happened (typically all at once!) I also received a few not so positive ones.

This was the response I received from Taylor & Co Architects in Worcester – they didn’t have any vacancies, however I liked that Mike Taylor took the time to write to me telling me so instead of the all too frustratingly common non-response…

And these are the ones I received interviews for…..

1. Interior Designer for Kitchenworld

I found this on the Directgov website for a Kitchen/Bedroom/Bathroom Designer for a kitchen showroom in Worcester. The job description/person specification sounded promising (CAD training if required, experience in a retail sales environment, good interpersonal skills) so I tailored my CV to the job, ensuring that my summary section fulfiled all their requirements and emailed in my CV with a covering letter. About a week after I sent in my CV, I got a call asking if I would come in for an interview!! Of course I said yes, and set about organising my portfolio and browsing the showroom website to get an idea of what it was like.

I felt this interview went well, and was invited back for a second time, however I turned this down. You’ll see why later! Even though this would have been a good learning experience for me (kitchens, bedrooms, as well as bathrooms), it wasn’t where I ideally wanted to be.

2. Assistant Arts Therapist with NHS

As well as sending out speculative CV’s, I have also sent in applications for specific jobs too. One of these I came across was for an assistant arts therapist with the Birmingham NHS – becoming an arts therapist was something that I explored when I was deciding which path to take during my career change – it combines two things that I really enjoy – helping people and being creative. I was delighted to realise that I fulfilled the person specification, so I busily set about filling in an application form and submitted it. I then got a call last week saying that I had been shortlisted for an interview…eeeeek!

This interview is scheduled for two weeks time, however I am unsure if I will attend. Although this job sounded good to me on paper, the reality of it isn’t so appealing now that it may become a real possibility. One of the reasons I left my previous career was because it was very emotionally draining, and also stressful in terms of workload and just being a therapist. As a friend (and fellow ex-therapist) pointed out, I am having reservations which I didn’t have with the other interior design jobs that I have got interviews for. What does that show?

3. Freelance Interior Designer with Intu Interiors

One company I sent my CV to contacted me two weeks ago and left me a lovely voicemail message – she said that she received my CV in the post and thought it was ‘fantastic’. She stated she especially loved my envelope with the ribbon and pearls, and wanted to know if I would like to meet up with her. I gave her a call back and she explained that she would really like to meet with me to show me around their offices and studios, then possibly become a freelance designer with them!

A week later and I was heading for the interview. I eventually found their new studios – in a beautiful Georgian building on a busy road heading into Kidderminster. I turned up and was told that Bev wasnt in today,  however her husband John would see me instead. I spent an about an hour chatting with John, and he basically explained the company background over the last year, how it has gone through a lot of upheaval recently, and how he is keen to get the business back on track and moving forward.

I loved the vision that John had for the business and I felt his values matched my own – I’m learning that this is so important if you are to be happy in your job. He explained that he and Bev believed in training and developing staff, they wanted to build the business and the people behind it so they would enjoy coming into work each day and basically be ‘one big happy family’ too.

John offered me a permanent, full-time job there and then! He explained that to begin taking his business forward, they need a good team behind them which means employing permanent rather than freelance staff. He then took me down to the design studio to meet the people I would be working with and bid me farewell, saying that he would speak to Bev that evening to discuss my terms of employment. I received these terms later that evening, then spoke to Sarah the next day to agree on a start date for me – she was happy for me to start in two weeks. Yipee!

4. Freelance Stylist/Stylist Assistant with Blocc Interiors

That very same day I received the voicemail from Intu,  I received another voicemail message. I listened to the message expecting it to be Intu, however I was even more surprised to find that it was another invitation for an interview from a different interior design company that specialised in showhome design! Check me! This vacancy I had spotted on the website for a stylist/stylist assistant dressing show and private homes, though I had also sent a speculative CV to them too a few days before.

This interview was meant to take place yesterday, however I reluctantly cancelled it due to already having accepted the job with Intu Interiors. Working full-time and being a freelance stylist just wouldn’t work unfortunately!

So there it is…. I did it again!

I have found myself another job in interior design… I am so pleased!

Victory Dance!

Showhome design has always struck a cord with me for some reason and has always piqued my interest, so I am very excited to be working within this industry. I may be starting at the bottom, however I see this as essential in proving myself to my new employer. Excited much!!

I start my new job on Monday 23rd July – keep following to see how I get on in the next stage of my new career!

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Month Four: All quiet on the Worcester front….

It’s been a month now since my boss gave me the news that I would unfortunately have to reduce my hours to part-time, however all has gone quiet on that front. She has asked me to remain full-time for the remainder of May and June whilst she decides what to do, then after that possibly reduce to two or three days a week.

Since my last blog post the PA has moved on to pastures new, so Sarah is currently interviewing for her replacement. This has turned out to be a good thing for me, as in the interim period I have offered to carry on some of the PA duties until a replacement is found. This means I have been helping out more with arranging delivery of goods to site, typing letters to clients, chasing up outstanding goods, making sure we are up to date with what stage we are at with each client  and so on. This has meant that I feel much more involved in the day-to-day running of a small business as I can see the daily ups, downs, and struggles that Sarah has to deal with; from sub-contractors who are disputing installation defects, to negotiating prices with very scrupulous clients – useful if I ever decide to start-up on my own!

A drawback of there now only being two of us in the showroom is that I am now showroom-bound whenever Sarah visits site. Remember the client in Bristol I told you about in Month Two where Sarah suggested I project manage the whole process? This has started to be installed now, and Sarah was meant to be taking me to site to explain the process she goes through when the bathroom is being fitted. However, now the PA has left, I am unable to do this as there needs to be someone in the showroom. I am considering though making the suggestion that I go out sometimes instead if we have any new clients who need their bathrooms measured so I can gain some more experience in this area.

Besides these additional duties, I am still designing all the bathrooms and creating moodboards for clients. I have had some particular struggles this month: My first one was designing what at first seemed to be a really great room – it was roughly 4 metres wide by 7 metres long – the clients wanted a new ensuite bathroom as well as a new bedroom with much more wardrobe space. The prospect of designing something other than a bathroom was an exciting one, so I eagerly set about creating some rough designs on paper, and getting carried away with the finer details (lamps, bedside tables, wallpaper you name it!). After attempting to draw up my first design, then my second, I quickly realised with a sinking heart that what initially turned out to be a huge room with endless possibilities was actually quite limited due to the sloping ceilings either side of the room as well as the Velux windows (the bedroom was situated in the loft space of the house). This meant that the only place where the ceiling was full height was down the middle of the room, which meant that this was the only place that the shower and wardrobes could go.

One bathroom design I came up with to utilise the full ceiling height in the middle of the room. The dotted lines down the centre of the room are where the ceiling begins to slope outwards.

Another struggle was attempting to redesign a new-build en-suite bathroom and main bathroom – increasing the shower size in the ensuite and the bath in the main bathroom to accommodate the broad 6 foot 4 inch client! I found it quite difficult to come up with creative solutions for these spaces – they were so small that everything had to remain in the same places that they were already in as it was the only way the products could work in harmony. I spent ages trawling shower brochure to shower brochure to find a suitable shower, only to realise that those with doors that pull open wouldn’t work as the toilet/basin wouldn’t allow the door to open enough for someone to climb into the cubicle – so I’d have to retrace my steps and see if there was a similar option but with sliding doors. Nightmare!

As for the showroom and customer facing side of my role, I am finding that now I have some experience of a few projects I am able to answer customers’ questions a bit easier as I can relate their question to an experience with a client. For example, a customer came into the showroom interested in a wetroom and asked how they were constructed as well as whether it is feasible for a house where space between floor/ceiling is quite narrow. I explained my basic knowledge of wetroom construction that I have been learning about myself, and was pondering on the latter question when I remembered that we are currently installing a wetroom for a client who lives in a 300+ year old house. I remember Sarah saying when we went out to survey the bathroom that the joists were quite narrow with not much space (no more than 6 inches) between the floor of the bathroom and the ceiling of the kitchen below – if they are having a wetroom fitted then it must be possible! I explained this to the customer who seemed happy with this answer and all the information that I had given them.

Not only has this month been a quiet one for me, this month has been pretty quiet on the whole! Due to the miserable weather and school half-terms, the showroom has been pretty empty with only a few browsers coming in for a wander. We do have Bella resuming her usual spot on my chair and looking very happy to be back after her stint on maternity leave though!

 Keep following me to see whether I am still finding my way in my current role, or whether I have found something new by Month Five……

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Call me an ‘interior sketch artist’….

Jess: the interior sketch artist – woo!

I wanted to share with you a little something that made my week this week, after having no joy with job hunting or even securing work experience, I was feeling pretty glum. However, a chance browse on Linkedin has led to me getting my first little job hand drawing interiors for someone who in her own words is a “hopeless drawer” thanks to the networking power of Linkedin.

I’ve been attempting to learn how to utilise Linkedin to the utmost recently, as like most people, I have had an account for a while now but am not really sure why or how to use it effectively. I am gradually getting to grips with its purpose and have already benefitted from regularly browsing the groups I have joined – scrolling through the various discussions and questions from group members one evening, I come across a London interior designer asking for help with hand-drawn interior sketches.

My interest is instantly piqued and I comment on her post asking her to message me if she is interested.  Hand drawing interiors is on my current list of ‘things to do’ (as well as learn SketchUp and Photoshop) however I haven’t really begun to tick this item off my list in any way. Soon enough however, I receive an email from Gabrielle asking to see some of my work!

Gabrielle explains her current predicament: she doesn’t think CAD drawings will demonstrate the effect she is trying to create to her overseas client as the style she is developing is swags and tails, corona beds, refined furniture etc. She wants some hand-drawn sketches as she feels these will be able to better communicate to the client what they will be getting.

I promised to send her some of my work and searched through all my stuff from my Diploma hoping that there was something I could use. I couldn’t find anything that I had done during the course that I felt comfortable showing Gabrielle, however we were given some great hand drawn examples of rooms, furniture etc in our handouts in a similar style to the one Gabrielle was after, so I decided to copy one of these to show her what I can do.

What do you think?

I will confess that I did trace the perspective of the room – this is something that wasn’t covered during my course and is something I have yet to master (my first attempt was rather poor!) However everything else I have drawn in myself – the bookshelf, chairs, fireplace. I have omitted a few items of furniture such as extra chairs and added the rest of the fireplace and a mirror.

I emailed Gabrielle the sketch and she loved it “this is exactly what I am looking for…the style is perfect, both technically and also of the period”

I was so happy – my first little job sketching interiors! This has been a great little confidence boost for me as it is something I can now add to my CV, and it has also given me the motivation to practice sketching more interiors. I will also need to work out charges – another alien concept to me – do I charge hourly? Or per drawing? How much do I charge? Argh!

Gabrielle is still finalising her design at the moment, however when this has been done and they have been drawn up in a CAD program, she will send me the drawings so I can work from these. So excited!

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From Prison Psychologist to Interior Designer: My Careershifters Story!

Check it out!

Another article I have written about my unusual change of career has been featured on the Careershifters website. I used quite a few of their resources when I was changing career, so jumped at the chance when they were asking for career change success stories on Facebook.

My story was also included in their weekly newsletter too!

Read it here:

http://www.careershifters.org/success-stories/from-prison-psychologist-to-interior-designer

Happy reading!

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My CV: The story of my life…updated!

Okay, so as you all know I have unfortunately had to reduce my hours at the moment to part-time (which is due to happen next month). This means the CV is in need of updating to show off my new skills and experience, and of course the good old job hunt is being resumed.

Up until now I have been happily sending out my  CV to employers blissfully unaware of some of the amazingly creative CV’s that are out there. Since getting my foot into the door of the design industry, I have slowly come to realise that there are some fantastic examples of CV’s that think outside the box floating around in cyberspace, which of course now makes my standard looking CV look ever so slightly boring!

Check out some of these CV’s that I’ve been browsing and you’ll see why:

http://montiroxa.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/beautifull-creative-resume-ideas-to.html

After finding inspiration from some other websites too, I have decided to get creative with my CV. Ideally I would love to create something wonderfully imaginative on Photoshop like some of the examples above, however my Photoshop skills are (ahem) non existent at present (though I hope to change that – boyf has got me a copy of Creative Suite 5 and I have bought myself a book on how to teach yourself Photoshop).

So for now I have settled with sprucing up my old CV in trusty old Microsoft Word, and hoping that this will be enough. I have changed the format a little, added a hand-drawn sketch to show my abilities,  highlighted all my skills and so on.

This is the first page. What do you think?

I have also included the usual cover letter explaining who I am, what I am seeking, and what I could offer in return for an employers time.

One piece of advice which I will always remember from my Diploma was to make yourself stand out when you are making yourself known to various people – employers, editors, colleagues etc. As I am unable to do this with a wonderfully Photoshopped CV at the moment, I have decided to focus on the presentation of my CV, cover letter and envelope.

One thing I have done is ‘gone back to basics’ and included a good old hand-drawing of myself to make my CV a little different, this is also serves an added purpose of showing employers that I do actually have great hand-drawing skills as I claim to on the first page above.

Something else I have done is use ‘shimmer’ paper and envelopes from my local stationery shop – the paper is slightly thicker than your usual A4 sheet (120gsm) and has a lovely iridescent sheen to it when in the light. Local stationers should stock a variety of different ‘sheen’s, though I did find loads on Ebay too.

One final thing I have done (this bit is my fave) is make the envelope eye-catching too…

I bought some ribbon from a local haberdashery and have wrapped it around the left hand side of the envelope. I then sacrificed one of my Primark pearl bracelets and have superglued a few pearls to the ribbon – though I have my doubts as to whether the pearls will reach their final destination!

All ready to go! What do you think?

So far I have five CV’s printed and ready to be sent out, and I have another potential 14 interior design companies and architects to send CV’s to as well. I have also been very active on Twitter about finding a job and have been amazed with how helpful fellow Tweeters are when they know you are after work.

Back to the job hunting I go!

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Month Three: Trouble in Paradise….

“Jess, I need to chat to you…..can you shut the door?”

These were the words my boss uttered to me as I wandered obliviously into her office last week to offer Louie (the resident miniature Chihuahua) the remains of my lunchtime sandwich.

My heart took a nose-dive into my lovely new suede heels, and I automatically jumped to the worst possible conclusion (what is it with that ‘we need to talk’ line that fills anyone who hears it with dread?)

I sat down and asked my boss as coolly as I could what was up, and she explained that for the forseeable future (how long is that?!) she needs to reduce her overheads – which means asking me (and the other three employees) if we could reduce our full-time hours down to just two or three days a week. Yikes! It seems my new found paradise wasn’t free from trouble after all.

I was very glad obviously that I wasn’t being fired as this was the first conclusion I jumped to, but also disappointed that I would have to reduce to part-time! What does that mean for my career change now? Do I ride out these troublesome waves in the hope of being re-instated full-time, or do I abandon ship whilst I still can?

After a week or so to mull over the news, I have accepted that I have to start the whole job hunting process over again, and the same waves of confidence and doubt at finding another job creep into my psyche  – how am I gonna stand out in a job market that is teeming with recent graduates from fantastic schools like KLC, Inchbald, and other universities? I have minimal experience, with little CAD knowledge, and a mere six weeks education in interior design – why would they choose me?

I have spent my days off updating my CV and scouring the locality for any interior designers and architects that I can approach asking for some work experience, an internship, part-time work or even full-time work, in the hope that this will eventually lead me somewhere. I have also scoured the usual job search sites, pleaded on Twitter, and searched LinkedIn for vacancies too.

One feeling which did surprise me though when I found out, was that I was almost relieved that I could start searching for new opportunities – as I mentioned in a previous blog post, I was doing alot of drawing up of designs, as well as moodboards. Now three months down the line this seems to take up the majority of my time still – despite highlighting this, and making requests for other things to train up on and learn. I’ve been feeling like my eagerness to learn isn’t being utilised to it’s full potential, which has subsequently left me frustrated and looking for something more.

So back to the job hunting drawing board (literally!) for me. Have you got any tips to keep me motivated whilst I begin another job hunt? Any words of advice?

To keep myself brimming with confidence whilst I job hunt and to end this post on a positive vibe, I have come up with 10 fab reasons why an employer should take me on:

 10 reasons why I am a great candidate for junior designer vacancies:

    1. I am eager to learn and keen to impress – I believe this shows that I am willing to do what it takes to get to where I want to be
    2. I have three months experience as a Junior Interior Designer – this is better than NO experience at all
    3. I plan to enrol on CAD courses such as AutoCAD/Photoshop/Vectorworks (when finances allow!) – I believe this shows that I am committed to developing my skills gaps and not afraid to work hard as I am learning these skills in my own time
    4. I have experience in choosing colour schemes for bathrooms that meet the clients’ brief, and choosing products and accessories – something often asked of junior designers
    5. I have accurate and neat technical drawing skills – skills some companies still use and ones which aren’t taught in degrees much anymore
    6. I have designed and created some great moodboards if I don’t say so myself – they show my creativity
    7. Having been a CBT therapist in the past I naturally have great communication and interpersonal skills – useful for really getting to know clients and what they want from their space
    8. Having recently completed my Diploma in Interior Design, I am basically a ‘blank slate’ for any employer – great because I can easily be trained, taught or developed into what is most efficient for them
    9. As this is a career change for me, I am determined to succeed – a determination which you may not get in fresh-faced graduates straight from University.
    10. I know I’ll be great at whatever is offered to me – I just need that chance!
(I’m gonna read these reasons everytime that pesky doubt creeps in!)
Wish me luck…..
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A Real Career Change Story: Check me out!

Through the social media power of Twitter, I was contacted by a career coach searching for inspiring career change stories. He asked if I would like to write an article for his website as he is hoping to start up a blog with guest writers who have changed their jobs or careers.

So of course I said yes!

Check out my article here and see what I had to say on my inspiring change of career:

http://www.stevenichollscareercoaching.co.uk/prison-interior-design-great-escape-real-career-change-stories/

I have had a browse through Steve’s website and it’s a great one – he offers different levels of coaching from Bronze (4 sessions), Silver (8 sessions)  and Gold (12 sessions) to help anyone through that time when you hate your job, but just don’t know what to do about it!

So why not take a look, and see if Steve can help you out of that work rut that you have been in for a while…

Enjoy!

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