Assistant Designer

January - March 2022 • New York City, NY

What I liked

The ability to work under a skilled designer who is just starting his own business. I could also push myself to improve my AutoCAD skills. I enjoyed going to the D&D building and sourcing fabric samples for the variety of projects we worked on.

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.


If you have a Bachelors or even an Associates from NYSID or another design program, you are overqualified to work for minimum wage. You'd be better suited in an environment that challenges you and helps you grow.
Be the first to mark this as helpful