What I wish was different
There was very poor communication throughout, and unfair pay. I was originally offered minimum wage, which I asked to be increased to account for the skills I have from my time at NYSID as well as in other industries. I was expected to just start working without a formal contract or with the terms of my payment in writing. I asked for the appropriate paperwork and indicated I'd need my own independent contractor agreement signed to ensure that the terms of my payment were clear and that I could not be taken advantage of. I was promised as a green designer who had just finished NYSID's BID program that I would be guided and was very clear about my skill level. This was an important first job for me so I could cut my teeth and ask questions when I didn't know how to do something, which I always did. I thought I would be challenged to continue honing the skills I had learned from the BID program, but I think the job was misrepresented to me.
There was very little guidance and very little opportunity to get to know a client's taste. I was often shown images of a client's current space and told to "look for sofas". I don't think I learned anything about where to actually look for products or how to present them to a client. I had very few opportunities to ask vendors for quotes, which was a skill I had indicated I wanted to learn and get that hands-on experience. There were emails during the weekends and throughout the night, which I think is unprofessional and presumptuous given the rate of pay. I'd often wake up to emails sent after 10pm about random side tables.
Self-starting was also challenging at this job. There would be a number of given tasks to complete throughout the day, but often I'd find that instructions were unhelpful or objectives not explained clearly. Often I would sit and wait for direction because I couldn't do the things I was asked to do, like build a floor plan, from the photos I'd be given. Again, I just don't feel I learned anything. The skills that I bolstered, like my eye for choosing fabric, were mine already and improved in reaction to the unsatisfactory experience at this job.
When my employment abruptly ended. I was given no indication that my performance was unsatisfactory or if there was anything I needed to be aware of to work on. The independent contractor agreement I provided and that was signed stipulated I was to be given five days notice before the end of our contract. This agreement was violated when I was fired, leaving me without work for the days I had planned to give to the job. I was fired on a Sunday afternoon via email with no notice and no explanation, in an email with no subject line. Had there been an opportunity to reassess at the two-month mark, I likely would have agreed to part ways mutually and amicably. Instead, I am disappointed with how the situation was handled. I believe I always asked questions when I did not know something, was transparent throughout our two months about what I was capable of and what I wanted to work on, and worked diligently to bring my skills to the table.
This experience was a disappointing one marked by poor communication, inappropriate pay, and a lack of professionalism. Any designer with their Bachelors or even an Associates is too qualified to work for minimum wage in a specialized trade in New York City.