Online Learning Grad is Designer at SAA Interiors + Architecture
Natalie Anderson's interest in interior design started in sixth grade when she began exploring colors and space planning. She competed in design competitions in high school, and was awarded the FIDM Interior Designer of Tomorrow Scholarship in 2013. She earned her A.A. in Interior Design in 2015, then returned online two years later for her Bachelor of Science in Business Management degree. She is now a designer at SAA Interiors + Architecture in Los Angeles. We caught up with her to find out more about her path and design career.
Tell us a little about yourself: I grew up in Meridian, Idaho, where I was involved in 4-H from the age of eight. I cared for and showed dairy heifers until I was 17. During that time, I started to become interested in interior design. In 6th grade, I started space planning for fun and picking out paint colors. In high school, I added to that by joining the student organization, FCCLA, where I competed in interior design competitions. Overall, my interest in interior design and business all started early in childhood.
Tell us about your position as a designer at SAA Interiors + Architecture: At SAA, I am involved in the design of physical work environments. I coordinate the day-to-day design and construction process for projects. This entails working closely with a Job Captain and Project Manager to coordinate with clients, contractors and various consultants. I am part of a design process for our investor clients that includes programming, presentation drawings, design development and implementation, construction documents and the selection and specification of interior finishes, millwork design, furniture and lighting.
Working to get spaces ready for the tenant market leverages my detail-orientation and precision. It’s very fulfilling to translate our client’s preferences into a design they love while adhering to their priorities and budget.
Why did you choose FIDM? I chose FIDM Los Angeles because of the Interior Design program and campus location. I was also the 2013 FIDM Interior Designer of Tomorrow Scholarship winner which was my personal sign to take the leap and follow my dreams.
How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now? FIDM helped me build a foundation of core skills that are now being expanded on in the field. With the eLearning program, I learned how to work well in a team environment and how to communicate effectively. The e-collaboration I learned while in school has been very helpful when it comes to me working from home during the stay at home order.
What went into your decision to enroll in FIDM's eLearning program: Once I graduated in 2015, I went into the interior design field. When I was looking to go back to school, I needed to still keep up my full time hours. The eLearning program was the perfect fit, and business was the perfect major. Interior design is not just about designing a space. You have to manage your projects which is where the business side comes in. I also plan on growing in my company through leadership positions, and I am so grateful I chose the business program. My foundation can only expand from here.
Tell us about your online learning experience -- what was the best part? The best part was being able to work full time 8am-5pm, and be able to come home and work on school. It took a lot of discipline, but the convenience of working on my school work on my time was perfect for me.
Any advice for current FIDM Students who are experiencing online classes for the first time? You have to build a schedule and stick to it. Discussion posts were always due Friday so I worked on those usually Thursday and Friday. Weekends were for reading lectures and working on projects and papers. Monday and Tuesday were for last minute touches on assignments since they were due Tuesday night. Wednesday nights were a semi break since it was the start of a new week. Through all of this, communication and set guidelines with your teams is also crucial. Google Docs is an incredibly valuable tool!
What is your biggest goal right now? My biggest goal is to grow in my role at work. I want to keep learning and expanding my skill set. My long term goal would be to work on projects in my home state of Idaho as well.
Anything else you’d like to share? Keep going and don't give up! Put on your favorite music, and get to work. It is stressful and rough, but you got this. You set your mind to a goal, and you need to keep that promise to yourself. The last day of your last quarter you can celebrate knowing all your hard work paid off.
Keep up with SAA Interiors + Architecture at saaia.com.