Alumni Spotlight: Andrya Huntsman

By: Michael Grefe, Associate Professor, Interior Design Filed under: Interior Design

July 11, 2017

Andrya Huntsman

While many Millennial's are facing challenges finding work, I wanted to share a story of an online student and how she was able to find her first position in the Interior Design field. Andrya graduated in August 2015 from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh—Online Division (Bachelor of Science, Interior Design) and lives near me in Northern California and during the last few years, I have been able to meet with her both online and in person to mentor her and offer career advice. I have to admit it was an easy task as Andrya was always highly motivated and always wanted the best for herself, her husband and her family. Andrya is a great example of someone with the drive to find her dream job after college in a highly competitive job market in the San Francisco Bay area.

Andrya is proof that, with persistence, you can find your perfect job that allows you an opportunity to grow in your field and make it a reality. Andrya credits her strong work ethic and my mentoring both in the classroom, acting as one of her thesis advisors and coaching her on her portfolio, as keys to her success. In my opinion, Andrya's story is not unique, as Ai Pittsburgh—Online Division has had many other highly motivated students in our Interior Design program obtain placement and career success due to the mentoring of our dedicated faculty.

I was eager to help her out because she was one of the most determined students in my twelve years of teaching at Ai Pittsburgh—Online Division. A few years back, I put together a Habitat for Humanity student function in Sacramento for our online students in the Northern California area and Andrya was the first to volunteer and what impressed me most is that she was the first to arrive, even though she had a two-hour commute.

My advice to Andrya for job hunting was the same advice that I received from my mother when I was in school, which is to dress well, be polite, and be persistent. Take your career into your own hands and don't be shy and knock on doors and drop off resumes at firms you're interested in working for in person. I told her the most important thing is to get your foot in the door and even if you have to start at the bottom to gain experience it will be worth it in the end. Andrya applied for and was offered a position as a design assistant with Amato Architecture firm in Emeryville, CA. The firm's work consists of commercial architecture with their primary specialization is residential and restaurant properties with a focus on sustainability and green building practices. The firm has received many awards for their local bay area projects.

Andrya began by managing the sample library and assisting in drafting projects for other designers in the office and now has more responsibility over multiple residential and commercial projects, as well as marketing for the firm. She starts each project with field verification, documenting all site conditions including a site analysis of the applicable codes. She then develops a schematic floor plan under the guidance of the principal architect, Rebecca Amato, which is then approved by the client and then creates a set of construction documents for the project. Andrya produces all the furniture, finish and electrical plans and is responsible for managing the project through all phases including obtaining a building permit. Andrya is extremely happy with her job and feels very blessed to work for a firm with a diverse client base which allows her to explore all aspects of a project.

Andrya Huntsman

She couldn't ask for more in terms of a job as her firm allows for continuous growth of many areas of design and construction. While Andrya hopes to be with this company for years to come, she eventually would also consider striking out on her own, starting a design firm emphasizing lighting, furniture and accessories. 

The architecture firm is very supportive of Andrya's success with continued education, including classes, exams and certifications. Initially, the job posting was actually advertising for an architect with 2-5 years of experience and Andrya wrote to Rebecca that even though she was a designer with only one year of work experience she had the attitude the firm was looking for. Rebecca agreed and was pleasantly surprised by the level of her education and how her one year of work experience had prepared her for the position. It was Andrya’s attitude that landed her this position and it was her education that allowed her to progress and succeed in it. 

She stated that the common misconception among many Architecture firms is that
Interior Design education focuses on decorating and she was able to dispel those fears by showing in practice the skills she developed at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh—Online Division. Andrya believes the strong space planning, AutoCAD and rendering skills she obtained at school is one of the keys to her success. 

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By: Michael Grefe, Associate Professor, Interior Design Filed under: Interior Design

July 11, 2017

interior design