NEXTer Interview: Candice Carter

Transitioning from one career to another can be a bumpy road. Candice Carter, a member of the NEXT for Women community, shared with us how Mentors made her transition move so much easier.

Q: What did you study in college that has shaped your career?

A: I went to college aware that I had a passion for design. I enrolled in a five-year design program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. During college, I took an internship as required from the UNC-G’s Interior Architecture program. With this internship opportunity, I had the opportunity to redesign an Isaac Hayes restaurant called “Hot Butter Soul” in Memphis, TN.

Q: How did you land your internship? Did anyone help you to land the internship?

A: Prior to securing my internship, I approached one of my mentors within the profession, and asked for her mentor to review and critique my resume and work portfolio. As a result, I was more confident presenting my resume and portfolio. My mentor also gave me valuable feedback as to how I could best present myself. I was also allowed her to “shadow” her mentor for a day, so that I could see what a typical day was like in the “real world”.

Q: Why did you decide to change your career? How was the transition?

A: After several years of working for my first employer out of school, I was ready for more of a challenge and new experiences. But I did not know what to expect out of this transition and felt I could use some guidance. In the past, I found mentors who were able to help me be more confident. So, I sought out mentors in my industry and developed the confidence to create my own path.

Q: How would you define confidence?

A: Expressing confidence is about what you do, it’s impact and who you have worked with. It is about your work ethic and leading by example. A part of expressing confidence is standing out as a leader.

Q: How did you find the relationships that allowed you to network?

A: In my search for mentors, I went to trade shows related to interior design and started casual conversations with people to gradually develop relationships. I found that I shared a common bond with members of the International Interior Design Association and was able to network and make contacts with ease. Through meeting people both deliberately and by chance, new contacts opened doors for me that I did not expect.

Q: Where has your career landed you today?

A: I now work at Phillips Architecture where I utilize my drawing, artistic and communication skills. It was the development of my own skills that allowed me to find my current position, but my experience has made me a valuable asset to my firm as now I have the ability to work with different clients of different cultural backgrounds.

Q: When networking what do you suggest?

A: I suggest that when in casual conversations find a personal connection. Build your own reputation and keep engaging with people in your network. Disclose a little bit about yourself but eventually shift the focus back to the person you are conversing with. Showing genuine interest helps to get the conversation going and freely tell others about opportunities that you may know about where they could grow their own network.

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