Shelley: This is Shelley Wilmoth and I am sitting down with Giselle Tayler Wells, the interior design program coordinator here
at Forsyth Tech. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself Ms. Wells?
Gisele: Sure, I have a background in commercial interior design as well as historic preservation.
I got into teaching I guess about nine years ago now and I’ve been at Forsyth
tech the whole time. I have a bachelor’s degree in interior architecture and a
master’s degree in interior architecture from UNCG.
Shelley: Can you tell me a little bit
about the program that you were the coordinator of the interior design program?
Gisele: Sure, we are a two-year full-time day program. We are an associate in
applied science. We cover all types of design, from commercial to residential to
different specialty design types. We strongly believe in collaborating with
our communities so we do a lot of projects with the. We have students from
varied backgrounds so students right out of high school, students doing a career
change. We have students who have a strong art background when they come to
us or know our background when they come to us and we basically start at the
beginning, do the foundation skills and build our way all the way up to more and
more complex projects.
Shelley: Your associate degree is the only option? You guys don’t
have a diploma or anything?
Gisele: We do have a diploma; a kitchen and bath focus. It’s
not ideal for someone who’s not already working in a design related field but we
developed the diploma program with the kitchen and bath focus for people who
are already in the industry or related field who want to specialize or someone
who has a previous design degree but maybe has never done kitchen and bath or they want to switch their focus.
Shelley: So you do have a couple of options but
associate’s degree does seem the way to go.
Shelley: And it’s a two-year program and
only daytime. you do not offer any night time.
Gisele: The diploma program is in the evening.
Gisele: …and but the associate degree right now is during the day
Shelley: This is Shelley Wilmoth and I’m sitting down with Giselle Wales the interior design
program coordinator here at Versailles tech she’s oh I was doing a little
research on the program and I saw that some teams from the interior design
program won top honors at the 2016 natural talent design competition can
you tell me about this competition and what it entails sure this is a
competition that our program has participated in
for the last five years and what we do is the final studio for the interior
design program in the final studio for the architecture program are combined
together into a joint classroom and faculty for both programs build teams
that are a mix of interior design and architecture students and then they are
given their spring semester in that class to do a large-scale project. It’s
in the past it’s been the natural talent design competition for the six years
that we did it the last five we took first place and of that five three of
them we took second place and we got an honorable mention one of those years
that competition has actually ended they’re not hosting it and so this year
were actually doing a design proposal for the Learning Commons that was part
of the bond referendum that passed this last fall here on campus so that’s been
a really great opportunity for the students to possibly have a lasting
effect on our campus here with some of the ideas that they generate through
their design proposals.
Shelley: Sounds like some high stakes that that you guys go
through and that your students and your teachers know their stuff. So what would
you what would you say that a student looking into this program would need to
get before they they came to see you guys?
Gisele: Yeah so definitely a high school
diploma is really our minimum requirement we do speak to the students
who are interested in our program about you know what our studio classes are
structured like kind of the difference between us and a more traditional
two-year degree we are very arts based creative process that this field
requires you to be a lifelong learner it’s not a set of skills that is like if
you know this that’s all you ever need to know just changing trends and
Technology, Building Codes, building systems, materials, products, it is
ever-changing and ever-evolving so you really need to come into this with the
knowledge that you will need to be a lifelong learner and that this field
requires a lot of you and our program to ask a lot of you. We may be a two-year
degree program but we are by no means an easy way to get a design education. We
ask the same things of our students that four-year programs
do and so we like to be very upfront about that and that this is more than a
decorating program. If you want to do that that’s wonderful and we will cover
how to do that but we’re also going to teach you all of the technical skills
that come with actually doing the interior design work not just the
finishing of the space and so for some students that’s more than they want and
I think that’s one of the reasons why you know we finished about 50% of the
students that start on program, which is typical in a creative arts program.
Shelley: So your your growth rate over the program over the last five years have you seen
an increase in students
Gisele: We have it’s really interesting actually when those
college enrollment as a whole was really skyrocketing our state about the same
and we will be typically with each incoming class in the fall we would have
between 75 to 100 percent of our seats full but we would see a pretty quick
decrease in that amount for people not really wanting to do this once they got
into it. As the economy has improved and the outlook for creative arts jobs has
increased and gotten better we’ve actually seen an increase in enrollment
and an increase in the numbers due to stay and and who really did their
homework and knew what they were getting into.
So they made a better choice for themselves.
Shelley: Do you guys have a job
placement internship program?
Gisele: So we do not require a work based learning
experience although we do have a few students that choose to do it. We’ve
placed them with area firms that do commercial or residential work. We’ve
even had one do an internship at a museum who was very interested in like
exhibit design so we’ve had students do that. In 2015 we increased our credit
hours in the program in order for our students to remain eligible for a
licensing that they can get after they’ve worked in the field for a while
based on their education and work experience and as a result we have less
students that are interested in doing a formal internship. Now a lot of our
students in the last two or three years have actually been employed before they
graduated and thought of that grew out of a part-time opportunity that grew
into more of a full-time position as they got closer to graduating. So in my
opinion I think if students want to do work based learning through the school
fantastic and we will help them do that or if that structure and of that sit our
requirement doesn’t work for them then there are a lot of non school sponsored
internships that are good opportunities as well that just offer more flexibility.
You know if you do work based learning you have to do at least 10 hours a week
and for our students they’re already on campus and doing work with us in class
for 20 30 40 hours a week so if they also have another job and a family that
makes squeezing in an extra 10 hours really hard.
Shelley: What would you say is your
most common job placement when you leave this program?
Gisele: So I think that’s a
two-part answer, 50% of our students go on to a four-year school whether that
was their education goals when they started with us or if they came to that.
The other part of our students typically enter the field as a junior designer or
design assistant. We’ve had students go work at your kind
of typical firm that you would think of with designers and architects. We’ve had
students go work for flooring companies and retail places that have in-house
designers. We’ve had students follow other related fields like graphic design
or photography, more of that kind of crafty decorating staging side as well.
So it’s a really varied degree and our graduates end up doing a wide range of
things either in the interior design field or in related fields.
Sheller: Well it sounds to me if you would like a challenge you’re creative and very
hardworking that the interior design program would be something that you
would want to look into. I really appreciate your time today thank you for
sitting down with me and I hope you have a wonderful day.