“I think the most important lesson I’ve learned is the importance of being a champion for your own career and education.”
Even before Alexis Mitchell applied to Yorkville University’s Bachelor of Interior Design program, she knew what she wanted to gain from the experience – to challenge herself to reach higher, both as an individual and as a designer.
Having already spent a few years working in the industry as an interior design technologist by that time, she had career advancement in mind, and knew she needed a degree in order to succeed.
“My passion for learning led me to Yorkville, whose flexible online Bachelor of Interior Design program allowed me to continue to work in the industry while I earned my degree,” said the Edmonton, Alberta-based designer, who was recently named co-valedictorian of this year’s Bachelor of Interior Design graduating class.
Combined with her previous experience, her degree from Yorkville helped Mitchell apply for the full NCIDQ exam immediately after completing the BID program in June 2021. She’s since completed her IDFX and is registered to conduct her IDPX and practicum exams in the spring of 2022.
In January of 2022, Mitchell joined Reimagine Architects – a firm known for their contributions to LEED and net-zero design, and successful Indigenous projects in Western Canada.
Mitchell, who has a passion for 3D modelling, interactive rendering, and VR technology, recently sat down to reflect on her time at Yorkville University and her plans for the future. Here’s what she had to say:
1. What brought you to Yorkville University? Where were you in your life/career when you decided to continue your studies with us?
Continuing education is a huge part of the architectural and interior design industry, so returning to school to complete my degree in Interior Design was a no-brainer in order build my career. In my local jurisdiction, a degree is required to join the local chapter and I knew joining it would connect me to the industry. When I decided to apply for Yorkville, I had already spent a few years in the industry as a technologist and was in a place in both my career and life where I wanted to challenge myself as an individual and as a designer. The Yorkville program gave me the flexibility to continue working while also completing my degree.
2. What made you decide to pursue your studies in Interior Design?
Architecture and Interior Design have always been a professional field that interested me, as it had a range of both artistic expression and technical detailing aspects that require finesse to succeed. I started my career as an architectural technologist, and that transitioned into interior-focused projects as I gained more experience. The satisfaction of shorter turn-around for interior projects allowed me to gain a greater range of experience and a greater opportunity to develop my own design profile. Not to mention interior design is just plain fun! Interior-only scope projects specifically are great opportunities to experience the full project scope – from winning the bid, through to project closeout – and allows you to work closely with clients, consultants, and contractors to build your network. I love every aspect of my career and wish everyone the best if they wish to pursue a career in this industry.
3. What is the most important thing you’re taking away from your studies at Yorkville University?
I think the most important lesson I’ve learned is the importance of being a champion for your own career and education. One of the greatest challenges and opportunities of completing a degree remotely is the amount of self-organization and self-reliance that is needed to stay motivated and successful. The lack of in-person learning settings puts a heavy pressure on the individual student to understand their own abilities, to reach out for support, to make connections, and to stay motivated and engaged. It is a great setting to develop the project management skills needed to transition into the industry successfully.
4. What are your plans after graduation, both immediate and long term?
Since graduating in June of 2021, I have completed both the IDFX and IDPX on my path to NCIDQ certification. I look forward to the end of April 2022, when I will be writing my NCIDQ practicum exam – so wish me good luck! The next steps in my career will be LEED and WELL certification on my path of continuing education. I look to grow my experience of both design opportunities and new project types across Alberta.
5. If you offered one piece of advice to an incoming student, what would that be?
The one piece of advice I would give anyone – new student, returning student, or industry-entering graduates – would be to always ask questions.
There is always an opportunity to learn something new or to gain a new perspective that would not be available unless you open yourself up to opportunities by asking questions.
The architecture and interior design industry is constantly innovating and pushing the boundaries of both technology and what design can do for society, so asking questions is the best way to grow as a design professional.
And a second piece of advice for new designers would be to do the Contract Documents and Contract Administration for their projects – it is the best phases of a project to learn about the problems that can arise through translating designs from paper into reality, and it’s a great way to work with both teams and build relationships outside of the firm.
Best of luck to everyone entering the industry and congratulations!