My junior and senior years of high school I had the opportunity to mentor under interior designers at an AECOM office in Roanoke, Virginia. While I was in the same environment both years, I was able to take away different things and learn a lot. Junior year, another student who was doing an architecture mentorship and I collaborated on a project. He designed a vacation home for a family on Saranac Lake in New York, and I did the interiors. This is where I found out how design really is a process. The amount of information I had to keep in mind was overwhelming, and so was the amount of trace paper I used. I had to make a reasonable and effective floor plan, while keeping all of the needs of the family in mind and meeting all of the ADA (American Disabilities Act) codes. Once my mentor, Alina Soroka (a Tech alum), and the other student’s mentor approved my floor plan, I had to move on to rendering. Alina introduced me to AECOM’s huge library of samples, and I didn’t even know where to begin. I wanted them home to feel spacious, but still have all the cozy aspects that a home should have. Once I settled on samples, I began rendering my floor plans. All of this was by hand, so getting this right was a long process. Eventually, I was ready to put together my sample board and a presentation. 2 other students and I came in one day and presented to the entire floor of designers. They began throwing critiques at me as I just stood there and soaked it up. For my first experience in any sort of interior design, I knew I had done my best so I just took notes to remember for later. The next year was quite different. I was assigned a practice NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) exam and was supposed to complete it in depth. The prompt for the exam included creating a space for an art school, with a pottery studio and book store on the bottom level and dormitories for handicapped students on the top level. I was provided the outline of the building, along with minimum dimensions for each space (offices, dormitories, bathrooms, etc), and some specific furniture that belonged in each space. For this project, it was especially important that everything was up to ADA code. I did this project by hand as well, and the complicated two levels were very tricky for me. Eventually, I completed a floor plan that met all of the requirements. Afterwards, I had to research all of the ADA codes that applied to my plan. I also did a basic rendering of the plan and had some samples of materials. I really learned a lot from these two years, mainly about how design really takes time, and a lot of critique. Seeing the interaction between interior designers and the others (architects, engineers, etc), was also really interesting because of all the collaborating they have to do.