The first time I heard the letters ASID strung together was in the late 90s as an upperclassman at San Diego State. A meeting of the Student Chapter was scheduled and someone said attending could be good for my career. That was enough to get me there. Although I was intrigued by the experience, the only words that stuck from my first meeting were that the Professional Chapter was holding an event the next week. I knew I should be there too.
As a student I was anxious about being in a room of Interior Designers. After all, the only designers I had ever met were my instructors. This would be the first time I was publicly declaring my intention to join that somewhat mysterious and seeming-exclusive profession. I was nervous, but neither the torrential downpour nor the flat tire on my Honda Civic could keep me from getting to that event (although my most professional 90s turtle neck sweater and hair were completely drenched when I did). The format for the program was a panel discussion and I had the opportunity to hear from past Chapter Presidents and San Diego design royalty. Although I think I spent the whole evening in a corner, sipping the wine I was too young to legally enjoy and not speaking to a soul, I sensed I was somewhere special.
The evening was captivating. I watched intently as professionals networked and discussed their latest projects and collaborations. I listened as legislation and advocacy were discussed. I smiled when panelist expressed admiration and applauded the accolades of their fellow ASID members. This group wasn't intimidating; it was INSPIRING. And I knew I needed to be a part of it ALL.
Fast forward twenty years. When I look back on that first experience, and many of my other 'firsts' in the industry, I am immensely grateful for the role ASID has played. My involvement with ASID was key in landing my first interview, which turned into six great years at one of San Diego's most prestigious firms. An ASID introduction led me to my second job in the field teaching collegiate-level Interior Design. Resources provided by ASID gave me the tools and confidence to eventually venture out on my own and forge my own way. There was a time when I could trace every dollar in my bank account back to my involvement in ASID. I am acutely aware of the influence ASID has had on not only on the development of my professional career, but also on my growth as a person.
But if my first student meeting had gone differently, where would I be? Had I let the flat tire derail that first professional meeting, would I have come back? Had the sense of camaraderie I got from the first panel discussion instead been adversarial or competitive, would I have joined? Who knows, but it seems less likely.
Although the details are my own, I know the story isn't unique. For our 700 members, I would wager there are 700 versions of what led us here and why we stayed. I know my firsts played a huge role in my evolution and I'd venture to say they did for you too. In fact, the Chapter wants to hear and share your 'WHY story' too. Look for more information in the weekly Your Next Event and monthly Newsletter emails soon.
And finally, a request: next time you are at an event, for ASID or any other organization for that matter, seek out those experiencing their firsts. The gesture seems so simple, but often gets overlooked. Make them feel comfortable and welcome and go out of your way to give them a first experience that reflects positively on the organization that has given you yours. Hopefully, twenty years down the road, they'll still be telling their 'WHY story' too.
As always, I'd be glad to hear from you! Please feel free to reach out for any reason to me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 619-793-7415.
Here's to many more exciting and rewarding firsts.
Lindsay Hester, ASID
California, San Diego President
PS- Revisiting my past has motivated me to reach out personally to some of those professionals that were instrumental in shaping my story. But publicly I'd like to acknowledge those who each had a hand in shaping my firsts and to whom I will forever be grateful.
Harold Pell, ASID
Kerry Nelson, ASID
Robert Wright, FASID
Maryclare Brandt, ASID
Jan Bast, FASID
Charlotte Jensen, FASID
Judy Hallberg, ASID
Kellie McCormick, ASID