Adult internships are on the rise and PB Kitchen Design is excited to introduce Michelle French to our team this summer. No stranger to partnering with both established and budding talent, PB Kitchen Design is always eager to bring in students from the Interior Design Program at College of DuPage (COD) in Glen Ellyn. PB Kitchen’s own Senior Designer, Debbie Larson, is a graduate of the COD program. Since her graduation over 20 years ago, Debbie has become a multiple award-winning designer.
“I didn’t want to go back into the corporate world, so I needed to do something else and interior design always interested me,” said Debbie of the time she spent preparing to go back into the work force after having children. “I wasn’t sure I would use it for work or personally with friends, but I liked school so I decided to go for it.”
Just a few classes short of graduating, Debbie was brought into the program Director’s office and found she had been recommended to a Geneva-based kitchen designer who was looking for an intern.
“Dan (McFadden) was seeking out new designers, and here I am, still enjoying working with Dan and Dave!”
In Grace Williams’ article on Today.com’s Money section entitled, “Adult internships and returnships help the over-40 crowd get back to work,” she brings to life the growing popularity of “returnships.”
Launching women back into the workforce, “returnships” are for higher-level professionals and according to Women Returners in the U.K., “act as a bridge back to senior roles for experienced professionals who have taken an extended career break.”
Women participating in these returnships are placed based on prior experience and are guided back into a professional role that would be a natural fit for their resume instead of starting from scratch.
“Companies have come around to the notion that skilled workers come in all shapes, sizes and ages,” says Williams. “And one very real solution that creates a “best of both worlds” bridge for companies and job seekers are internships and returnships.”
Debbie says the program at C.O.D. was crucial for preparing her for a career in design.
“There’s no way I would’ve been prepared to create baths and kitchens without the in-depth study of the Interior Design program at COD.”
The College of DuPage program is one of ten schools in North America to be recognized by the Excellence in Education Award, which honors NKBA accredited programs.
Most recently receiving a seven-year reaccreditation from the NKBA for the Kitchen and Bath Design certificate, the Interior Design program at COD has proven to maintain a high quality pathway to a career in design through 41 credits and a two-credit internship.
Whether you have been out of the work force for a time or looking to change careers, both Debbie and Michelle are a testament to the millions of women who took a hiatus from their career.
Similarly, with all her children in school, Michelle decided to use her graphic design background to evolve with the rise of the digital world.
“Although I have spent my career in graphic design, I have applied my design skills to everything from landscape design to interior design over the years,” said Michelle. “Once the traditional craft of print design started evolving to the digital world, I knew it was time for me to make a change.”
So she enrolled in COD’s Interior Design program to master the technical aspects that go into planning, designing, and building commercial and residential spaces.
“COD has a great program, taught by seasoned professionals that enrich our classroom experience with their real world experience,” explained Michelle.
The Chicagoland area is ripe with talented kitchen designers, and we asked Michelle what prompted her to consider an internship with PB Kitchen Design.
“I’ve been familiar with PB Kitchen Design for years. I knew they designed high quality kitchens with diverse design styles that were executed flawlessly,” explained Michelle. “When I heard they were looking for a summer intern, I jumped at the chance to learn from such a talented group.”
And let’s not forget that taking a “break” from one’s career does not necessarily mean starting a family, in fact, many women recently are called to care for elderly parents. But once they are ready to re-enter the workforce, the gap in their resume had many potential employers questioning whether the professional flame has been extinguished with personal obligations.
“As our careers are extending, we’re going to need more nonlinear professional career paths, including opportunities to take breaks to look after children and elderly relatives,” said Julianne Miles, co-founder and director of the professional network Women Returners, said in her interview with CNBC.
These internships and returnships can help shape your career and according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), “An internship is the doorway to working in the real world.”
Especially if you are new to the industry.
As Michelle experiences an internship in the kitchen design industry for the first time, Debbie can’t help but reflect on her own journey and extend a few words of wisdom.
“I’ve been in Michelle’s shoes and I encourage her to ask a lot of questions and keep networking with other designers. Engage and get to know our allies (the tile and flooring companies, for example) and learn as much as you can. The more info and knowledge you gain, the more valuable you will be to clients and potential employers.”