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Alum in Interior Design Offers Advice for Aspiring StudentsJen Hendrickson attended SCASD schools intermittently all throughout her childhood, before finally settling down in 7th grade and graduating from State High. It was there she met her husband. “Junior year in high school, we played badminton against each other and I thought he was cute, and a few weeks later we started dating, and we’ve been together ever since.”

Following college at Penn State, she started down a career path that would take her near and far, but finally led back to State College, where she’s developed a successful interior design business.

“I did hotel and restaurant management and worked in some really beautiful hotels. I’ve always been really interested in interior design, but Penn State didn’t have a program. So after I’d worked in these beautiful hotels, I decided that I really did want to do interior design. I went back and got a second degree in fine arts in San Diego, and that’s when I started interior design,” she explains.

“We moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where he was stationed and I worked for a residential designer there. Then we moved back to State College, and I was a new mom and really wanted flexibility, so I just started doing jobs for people. I began getting referrals, and my business started growing. Now my kids are older — they’re both at Mt Nittany middle School — and it’s a full-time job. It evolved and I’ve been really lucky.”

Relating her career to her time as a student, she says, “The art classroom was always a comfortable place for me. I spent quite a bit of time in the art wing of the school. I also really enjoyed math, and I think that’s where the more technical side of my job plays in.”

For current students possibly interested in pursuing a career in interior design, Hendrickson says, “My number one advice to them would be to contact someone who’s in the field and shadow them and spend some time with them. I’ve had quite a few kids come in and spend the day with me, and I think it gives them a quick synopsis of what they would be doing. Mainly, just exposing themselves to people who are actually doing the work.”

She also warns, “There’s a misperception of what I do. I think a lot of people think we just pick out fabrics. It’s a very technical job, if you’re actually an interior designer with a drafting background. If you want to be what they officially call an interior designer, you have to have a very technical side.”

But, for any student, regardless of career path, Hendrickson relates a few pieces of advice from her own high school days: “Really enjoy it and being with your friends, but don’t forget, you have to stay on top of your school work if you want to be successful down the road! You have to be a disciplined person and you start those habits when you’re in high school. Also, be kind and always try to put yourself in other people’s shoes. You never know what others are dealing with.”