Online classes present new challenge for interior design students

In this photo taken on Jan. 23, 2019, Interior Design students work on a project in the Goebel Building. Lariat File Photo.

By Claire Van Zee | Reporter

As students have transferred to online courses, certain majors are finding the transition to be more difficult than others. Often, what first comes to mind are labs and art classes that require the use of in-class facilities.

However, students in majors such as interior design have also struggled in the transition, as they must adapt to completing their design work at home rather than in the Goebel building’s computer lab.

Midlothian junior Sam Ferrington said her biggest worry going into online courses was her access to design software, such as Revit and CAD, that many of her courses require.

Dallas senior Amy Zukoski shared the same concern, especially for underclassmen who are taking important foundation courses in the software.

To their benefit, the interior design and IT departments have been working hard to make all of the software and method of instruction easily accessible to all students.

According to interior design program director Michelle Brown, students now have remote access to the computers and software in the Goebel lab.

Brown said this was especially difficult because a few of the software programs are only available via PC, but most of the interior design students have Apple computers.

However, now students can log on to their personal computers and mirror a screen in their computer lab on campus.

“That transition, as far as software goes, has been amazing. I think everybody who has been working to get us the software is great, and I’m so grateful to them,” Ferrington said.

According to Zukoski, one of the courses that took the hardest hit is Interior Design Studio IV. This is what interior design students call their “capstone,” an upper-level cumulative class requiring students to use all of their knowledge in design and software that they have acquired during their time at Baylor.

“That’s something that we usually work really closely with our professors on and they’re always monitoring,” Zukoski said.

Now, they have to take a more independent approach and report back to their professor via one-on-one Zoom meetings every few weeks where professors check up on their progress.

As a junior, Ferrington is concerned that she may not be as prepared for her capstone as she would have been while on campus because of the difficulty in transitioning from learning software in person to online.

“Going into capstone, it’s very important and beneficial to be really familiar with the software,” Ferrington said.

Another major concern for interior design students is the availability of internships and jobs in the near future. In order to graduate, interior design students are required to have a summer internship, which is typically taken the summer after their junior year.

Juniors, like Ferrington, are now faced with a questionable summer as most of the companies and firms they have applied to are struggling to respond to applications amidst COVID-19.

“I’ve contacted several employees and have interviews promised to me, but now nobody is getting in touch with me,” Ferrington said.

While students understand the difficulty many companies are under, they’re still concerned as to what will happen if they are unable to find an internship for the summer and what that means for not only their potential to graduate, but even their likelihood of finding a job after graduation.

“It’s not only a requirement, but it looks really good when looking for a job. We’re at the point where even those who do have internships are worried about them getting canceled,” Ferrington said.

Zukoski, who completed her internship last summer, contacted the HR department of the firm she interned for. She was given the option between three positions and was told to call back for an update in two weeks, which left her on a really good note going into spring break.

“But all of this has trickled down since, so it’s been really hard to get in touch with him. Their focus right now is working on the company and how they’re handling things, instead of hiring somebody,” Zukoski said.

In terms of where internships go from here will depend on how long the virus lasts, but according to Brown, it will inevitably have some kind of effect on internships.

One of the companies that the internship coordinator has been talking to said that as far as interns, they weren’t sure where they were going to go because it depends on what kind of projects withstood the pandemic, Brown said.

Brown said, as of now, the department is looking at alternate ways for students to meet their junior year internship requirements.