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Colleen Harrison | Co-op Spotlight

Updated: Mar 5, 2019

As only a third year, Colleen Harrison has some pretty impressive achievements to brag about. When she’s on campus, DAAP is her home since she’s studying interior design. Get to know Colleen more through this week’s Q&A with a co-op!

"Just be yourself, don’t be shy, and be confident in your work!" -Colleen Harrison

What company are you co-oping with? Forrest Perkins What is your position? Interior Design Intern Brief job description: I was essentially a core member of the interior design team at both of my co-ops. Often times I am pulling different materials or fabrics for spaces and furniture. I search for furniture selections for various projects. I look through Pinterest a ton to pull inspiration images for the designers. I put together digital presentations with InDesign and Photoshop. I occasionally build 3D models in Revit or draw floor plans and technical drawings in CAD. I meet with vendors to hear about the latest products coming out in the design world and organize the office material library. Lately I have been participating in calls with people from different offices to develop the design and concepting of a brand new project. By being with the firm for two semesters, I’ve been introduced to all phases of the design process (SD, DD and CD). Why did you choose the company? I applied to Forrest Perkins as well as 12 firms for my first co-op, particularly all luxury hospitality or residential design companies. I actually walked up to the Forrest Perkins booth at E2C (the DAAP career fair) just to say hi and look at their work. They ended up giving me an interview right on the spot and offered me a job in San Francisco the next day. I got really lucky but it goes to show that it’s all about networking and putting yourself out there! I chose to go back to the firm for my second co-op because the president called me and offered me the opportunity to help start up the Chicago branch!

Where are you located? Fall 2018: Chicago, ILSpring 2018: San Francisco, CA Coolest/most brag-worthy thing you’ve accomplished on co-op? I think the coolest thing about my co-ops have just been the projects I’ve had the opportunity to work on. I’m currently working for a huge residential compound in Washington DC for a confidential celebrity client (ITS SO COOL AND I WISH I COULD SAY WHO IT WAS). I’ve also worked on designs for The Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, The Cambria in Nashville, and The Lytle Park Hotel in Cincinnati. What is your dream job? I would love to continue to work as a high end interior designer. I’m still not sure if I want to go the hospitality (hotel and restaurant) route or the residential side. What is your favorite thing about the city you’re in? My favorite thing about Chicago right now is the familiarity and size of the city. I’m here with 12 other DAAP students and it’s so nice to have friends around to live and explore with because often times co-op can get very lonely.

How did you find your living situation (apartment etc)? In San Francisco I was on my own so I found an Airbnb that I shared with 7 strangers. I had my own room but it was tough finding a decently priced place. In Chicago, I am staying at a university housing facility downtown. I have two roommates that are also DAAP students on co-op. I highly recommend student housing because it makes you feel like a college student still which is nice. How many places have you co-oped? Name the companies 1 firm but 2 locations. Forrest Perkins What do you look for in a potential employer? Primarily I look for companies that fit my interests in design. I have absolutely no interest in healthcare or corporate interiors so I don’t even bother applying to those firms. If the company offers me an interview, I usually just make sure that I mesh well with the designers I talk to and I make sure to ask what I will be doing as an intern at their firm. Interview tips: Just be yourself, don’t be shy, and be confident in your work! If you show you’re interested in the firm and what they do and just have a genuine conversation, it goes a long way (kind of like recruitment LOL). Our DAAP advisors love to push our portfolios and tell us that a good portfolio is what gets you the jobs. I agree that a good portfolio helps, but ultimately firms are looking for students that will work hard and be easy to work with. They know that we’re students and don’t have the skills to actually design yet. It’s all a learning experience and the employers know and understand that! Where to search for internships/co-ops? I have been SO fortunate that DAAP’s co-op faculty is so great. Our advisors give us a list of firms each semester, we pick 12, and we wait for interviews. DAAP has co-op down to a science and it makes it so easy to find jobs. There are almost twice as many jobs as there are students in architecture and interior design.

What do you miss the most being on co-op? TRI DELTA BY FAR. I miss it so much and I get the worst fomo every time I check snapchat and see I’m missing another event. It sometimes sucks having to miss an entire year for co-op, but it makes coming home every other semester that much better. Love you guys!!! Best part about being on co-op? Living in a new city and having some free time! It’s scary to move to a new place (especially when you’re all alone in California) but it’s such an awesome experience and it really makes you learn a ton about yourself and become independent. What do you do in your free time? I’ve actually been taking dance classes three times a week. Dance was something I missed SO MUCH once I went to college and it’s great having time to get back into it. I also love to just explore the city and be a tourist for four months

Contact info:

Phone number: 513-807-2588


Insta: colleen_harrison

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