The autumn start of the Interior Decorating program at Maritime Business college is four times larger than 2019.
The first day of class on Oct. 19 saw 25 new students walk through the door.
That number is up from six last October.
The COVID-19 pandemic contributed slightly to this growth. Two of the students carried over from a spring start date that was unable to proceed.
MBC Interior Decorating instructor Sharon Cameron-Charlton says there many reason for the program’s growth. A need within the industry to offer services like space planning, laying out residential and commercial spaces while also being able to pick out the spaces and the furnishings for them.
This increase has been a happy challenge for the instructor. MBC was able to hire Darlene Despaties, a former graduate of the program eight years ago, as a teaching assistant. She works as a kitchen designer in the industry and fills this same r ole for a third time.
A COVID-19 Classroom
The large group of students are adapting in a COVID-19 classroom. The yare engaging, enthusiastic and passionate about the subject matter. Her concerns about social distancing in class while maintaining a sanitary environment when working in pairs and groups aren’t an issue.
“If you have to be doing this at this time you probably couldn’t have picked a better class to do it,” says Cameron-Charlton. “They all seem to very much get along, gel together, want to work together and they’re great for bouncing design ideas off each other and collaborating.”
Contributing to Growth in the Industry
After 12 years teaching this program she looks forward to working with this large class. This will allow her to grow the program following last year’s additions of new software to the curriculum. She also has a recent articulation agreement with Yorkville University.
“Being able to promote my students a little bit more and open up opportunities within industry has been very exciting,” she says.
Demand for the program’s graduates continues to be high. In two weeks she posted eight jobs for the students on an MBC bulletin board outside her class room. Some come from online sources. Others are from industry professionals approaching her saying they hired previous MBC graduates with great success.
“COVID hasn’t hurt our industry at all,” says Cameron-Charlton. “You still drive around and see buildings going up.”
Some of this need is due to people being stuck in their homes unable to travel and are investing their money in renovations.
“For my students working out in industry they seem to be busier than ever.”
Interior decorating student Sasha Stevens enrolled in the program to embrace her creative side. She also recognized the potential to earn a good living.
“To have some type of guarantee that the work would be there afterwards and a better wage was a huge selling point,” says Stevens. “There’s lots of interest I had in this business, but I never thought I’d have an opportunity to follow through to be here, learn the skills and feel like I’m capable. It’s quite inspiring.”