CSU’s Interior Architecture and Design Program continues its strong connection to industry with Denver event

A student explains her design work in a mock interview event in Denver

Denver Design Dialogues brought together nearly 50 junior and senior students in the Interior Architecture and Design Program at Colorado State University with approximately 50 design professionals from the Northern Colorado area on Nov. 11.

The event included student participation in mock interviews with industry professionals and a social gathering of students and professionals, including alumni.

One of the greatest strengths of the Interior Architecture and Design Program in CSU’s Department of Design and Merchandising is its connection to industry and its successful record of student employment after graduation. Internships are a required part of the program, and 80% of 2022 graduates secured plans for employment or further education within six months of graduation. Emily Leck, internship coordinator, and Marcus Appleby, industry liaison, organized the event. Both are instructors in the program as well as designers in the industry.

Many of the instructors in the program teach part-time while also maintaining their own professional practice. This strong connection between academia and industry helps students easily transition into their professional careers. The Denver Design Dialogues event amplifies this connection by building industry connections before the students even graduate.

Emily Leck and Marcus Appleby work to organize the mock interview system.

Varied attendees

Students in the professional practice course attend this event and present their resumes and portfolios of their studio work. The student group consisted of seniors, many already interviewing for positions after graduation, and a handful of junior-level students. The connections the students make during this event can lead them to their first professional position after graduation.

The professionals in attendance represented more than 30 companies based in the Denver/Northern Colorado area, showcasing a wide range of opportunities through their professional specializations. Many of the professionals in attendance are young Colorado State University alumni who offered advice on the transition from being a student to becoming a professional, as well as feedback on design work and interview skills.

Hosts and sponsors

The event was hosted by Workplace Elements in Denver, which provided both the physical space for the interviews as well as the food and beverages for the social hour that followed the interviews. Their large showroom provided the perfect space for students to network with professionals and discuss design in a casual setting following the mock interviews.

History of success

This was the second year for the Denver Design Dialogues event. Four students from last year’s event were offered positions through the connections they made, three at MBH Architects and one at IA Interior Architects. Two of those four, Katie Casebier and Shelby Norris, returned to the event this year as professionals.

“It was interesting sitting on the other side of the table,” said Casebier. “I had a full-circle moment as I was able to connect familiar projects, concepts and theories to my new normal as a design professional … Returning to this event as an alumna reminded me of how well CSU’s IAD program prepped me as well as how much there is still to learn!”

“It was so great to connect with students and hear about their experience in the program,” said Norris. “The IAD program has incredible resources for students to interact with design and industry professionals.”

Her advice for current students is to “take advantage of the connections you make in school, whether that’s with your classmates, professors, or professionals you meet at events like Denver Design Dialogues.”

“We look forward to growing this event in the future,” said Karen Hyllegard, head of the Department of Design and Merchandising. “With the marked increase in enrollment in the Interior Architecture and Design program, we are excited to partner with successful alumni and other industry professionals to provide such valuable learning and networking opportunities for our students.”

The Department of Design and Merchandising is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.