A Winding Path to Designing a Dream Job

Interior Design and Interior Architecture graduate Yvonne Yip builds freelance clientele

Understanding your passion and enveloping it into a career can take some time. 

Yvonne Yip, a graduate of our Certificate Program in Interior Design and Interior Architecture, found her niche when she ventured into the architectural world.

What started out as a desire to move into marine management after completing her undergraduate degree at UC Santa Barbara in Global Studies, Yvonne’s vision of “playing with really cute baby sea otters” didn’t quite pan out as planned.

“All the money in marine management is in fisheries,” Yvonne recalls. “So I did work in fisheries for a while. Then I thought I wanted to do something that looks really good on paper, and I was accepted into UC Berkeley’s School of Optometry.”

However, this proved to be a road bump into realizing her dream career: The courses in the master’s program didn’t tap into her creative spirit. So back to square one. Remembering fond childhood memories turned out to be the key that unlocked her career potential.

“I had always really loved design as an art, and both of my parents were architecture professors,” Yvonne tells me. “So I was really lucky growing up because anywhere we went, we would stop and look at the architecture. I think that really helped my appreciation of design. What I found out after doing these other jobs is that it really is important to find something that you love to do.”

And that’s what brought you to our certificate?

Yes, I'm really grateful for the opportunity to have been able to do this interior design and interior architecture certificate because I was able to take those courses while still working. I was able to balance my current job with the coursework to transition into design.

It is great because you can take courses at your own pace and still be employed—you don't have to be without an income for an extended period of time. There are a decent amount of graduates from the certificate who live and work in the Bay Area. So it is pretty helpful to say that you've gone through the UC Berkeley Extension certificate because a lot of the local firms recognize it as a good certificate; a lot of their current employees, and even some of the principal designers at firms, have graduated from the certificate.

At the same time, I started interning at interior design firm Workroom C by Carolyn Rebuffel Designs, LLC. I was very fortunate someone actually let me intern without any experience.

Was there a particular course you enjoyed the most?

I really liked the studio classes a lot. Instructors Julie Barron and Jennifer Mahoney were really amazing and very knowledgeable—you could tell that they really love what they do. Most of them are working in the field so they have very hands-on experience and knowledge to pass on.

When we find something that we are passionate about, it is easier to put in extra effort and excel. This is because we enjoy what we are doing, and we are motivated to learn more and achieve our goals.

You also did another internship at the American Society of Interior Designers as you neared completion of the certificate.

This was part of the Internship in Interior Design course. Being able to become a student member for a lot of the designers or design groups was really helpful. It is a really good introduction and you also get to meet a lot of other students.

The highlight was when I started applying what I was learning from the certificate to the actual internship work. It was really exciting when I was able to use my rendering and modeling skills that I learned from my classes and apply them to the work. Presenting to clients reflected what I did in class presentations and in studio classes. For example, we had to come up with this elaborate design and present it to each other. The skills that I built in the program helped me create those presentations and helped me with this real-life work. There were direct parallels between what I was doing in classes and what I was doing in the internship.

So now I'm doing freelance work for residential interior design, and I really love it. Sometimes I am in awe that people pay me for what I do, which is awesome and I feel very fortunate to have found this career path.