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Workshop Teaches IAD students how to HOUZZ

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(Left to right) Vanessa Brockway from HOUZZ partnerships group, Director of the School of Interior Architecture and Design Archana Myer and Lauren Gold, a member of the HOUZZ industry marketing team. Photo by Bob Toy.

On Wednesday, September 30, representatives from HOUZZ—the leading platform for home remodeling and design—showed Academy of Art University’s School of Interior Architecture and Design students how to leverage the website now and in their careers. In addition to offering a vast array of inspiring design photos, HOUZZ is an online community where homeowners and industry professionals can connect and exchange information.

Headquartered in Palo Alto, HOUZZ receives a whopping 35 million unique user views each month. Workshop leader Lauren Gold, a member of the HOUZZ industry marketing team, said 90 percent of residential users visiting the site own their own house. Of these, 76 percent are planning to renovate their current home or build a new one. Many HOUZZ users are searching for professionals to help them with such projects.

Vanessa Brockway from the HOUZZ partnerships group was also on hand to answer questions. She explained that the HOUZZ event at the Academy was part of the company’s new Emerging Professionals workshops for schools and universities.

“We started working with design and architecture programs across the country this year,” said Brockway. “We really want to show students what HOUZZ can do for them now and as they start their careers. It’s a place where they can house their portfolios, build a website using our free website tools and take advantage of career-networking opportunities.”

IAD students who have already benefited from HOUZZ include Jenny Bergren. She secured two internships through the site before graduating last spring.

“Jenny had such positive feedback about how HOUZZ helped her throughout school and strengthened her professional presence,” said Archana Myer, director of the School of Interior Architecture & Design. “We’re all familiar with HOUZZ, but we really appreciate this opportunity for students to learn more about how they can use it.”

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IAD students at the HOUZZ workshop. Photo by Bob Toy.

During the workshop, Gold showed students how to create a portfolio to showcase their work on HOUZZ. She said they should categorize themselves as “student professionals.” She also stressed the importance of having a strong profile in the About Me section of their portfolio and linking it to the Academy’s HOUZZ page (www.houzz.com/pro/aauiad).

“Include ways to get in touch with you and a photo of yourself,” said Gold. “You should also have an overview that explains why you’re passionate about what you do, the kind of work you do and your consulting availability.”

Gold also guided students through the process of uploading photos to their portfolios and advised them on the types of photos to include. “Drawings are huge for students, as well as before photos of projects you’ve worked on,” she said.

Gold added that it’s essential to categorize and keyword photos to make them easy to find. “It can be time consuming to keyword, but it’s by far the most valuable step for helping your photos get noticed,” she stated. “Every photo is credited to the pro who uploaded it. That’s automatic advertising for you and your brand.”

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Lauren Gold from HOUZZ Photo by Bob Toy.

Gold also discussed the benefits of creating private or public HOUZZ idea books. As students, they can use the books to spark personal inspiration or to exchange ideas with peers and instructors. After graduation, they can use idea books to communicate efficiently with potential clients or to boost their professional profile by sharing new trends or showing their design style.

HOUZZ offers several ways for students to network for internships or jobs, including a professional directory. Gold advised workshop attendees to browse through the professional profiles and contact those they like. Brockway recommended checking out the advice section of the HOUZZ Pro-to-Pro discussion forum for work and internship opportunities.

Students who missed the workshop but want to learn how to build a HOUZZ portfolio can contact the company’s support department (https://support.houzz.com). “We have an awesome support team, and they’re always available to help,” said Gold. “All of our resources are free and they’re really applicable to what these students are doing.”