Ryerson Grad Switched Careers By Completing A Certificate At The Chang School


When you were a high school student applying to college or university, did you know exactly what career you wanted to pursue?

Probably not. Most of us had to choose between many different possibilities, and weigh the pros and cons of different schools, programs and career paths.

Bill Chan, now a Junior Designer with strategic design company Perennial Inc., was always interested in interior design but started his career in a completely different field: IT.

“There is a good chance that you’ll find the perfect job for you as long as you have the skills – and Ryerson helps you get there.”
Bill Chan, interior design graduate, Ryerson University

Interior design continued to appeal to him, though, so after hearing about the undergraduate interior design program at Ryerson University, he decided to enrol in the Certificate in Fundamentals of Interior Design at The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education and used that to eventually enter the undergraduate degree program.

Check out our Q&A with Bill below to learn more about how he used continuing education to change careers.

Q. Why did you decide to pursue continuing education at The Chang School?
A. When I was 18, I wanted to study interior design, but somehow I went into the IT field. I worked in a number of different IT, management and administrative roles, but interior design still appealed to me. I think of myself as a creative person so I started wondering if maybe I should start studying interior design.

I had heard about the interior design degree at Ryerson University, and the downtown location of the campus appealed to me. I chose to complete a Certificate in Fundamentals of Interior Design at The Chang School, which led me directly into the second year of the undergraduate degree program in interior design. I completed my degree in October 2010.

Q. What was the program like?
A. In the Fundamentals of Interior Design we learned the basics of interior design and interior decorating – like the first year of the interior design undergraduate degree. I learned about drafting, communications and the history of design.

I also worked part-time in the shop of the interior design department. I didn’t have much free time since I had to complete all the required credits before going into the second year of the undergraduate program, and I also had to get a high GPA in order to have a better chance of getting into full-time. I had to compete with first-year students.

Q. What was the best part of the program?
A. The mentors and classmates from different fields who I interacted with at The Chang School really helped me. My classmates and mentors were my support system. We did school trips (such as visiting the Art Gallery of Ontario and other exhibitions) and we worked together as a group for projects. It was beneficial to work closely with my classmates and mentors while completing the certificate because I got to sample a bit of what I would be doing in real life as a junior designer. Some of my classmates and mentors are now my best friends.

One person in particular, Blaine Evans, was a great mentor and is now my friend. I was his IT Assistant, but he showed me how to use the tools in the shop after work. He taught me to challenge myself and think out of the box. He would take his time after class to teach us how to do drafting correctly no matter how tired he was.

An example from Bill Chan's interior design portfolio - The Chang School - Ryerson University
An example from Bill Chan’s interior design portfolio

Q. How has going back to school helped you in your new career?
I currently work for a retail design company. What we do is space planning for retail stores. Right now I’m working on a project for a bank designing the interior of a new branch.

In the certificate program at Ryerson, I gained time management and some technical skills. Using those skills I was able to manage my projects while working part-time. During my fourth year in 2010, at one point I was studying full-time, working two part-time jobs, doing volunteer work and preparing the Interior Design Year End Show! I also learned how to use programs such as Autodesk AutoCAD, VIZ, 3ds Max, and SketchUp in the certificate program. The most valuable thing was knowing SketchUp because I use this program every day in my current job.

Q. What advice do you have for students and recent grads?
A. Don’t wait for things to happen. You are the only person who can change your career path. If your current career is not satisfying, make the change by going back to school to learn new skills. Don’t let financial constraints stop you from learning because there are supports and scholarships that you can apply for. Ryerson also has a work study program so students can work on campus while taking courses.

Learning at The Chang School gave me a chance to understand the potential of what I could achieve. Students can take courses at their own pace and decide the level they want to get to. It is really flexible. There is a good chance that you’ll find the perfect job for you as long as you have the skills – and Ryerson helps you get there.


Visit www.ryerson.ca/ce/interiordesign for more information on The Chang School’s Certificate in Fundamentals of Interior Design.

See what else The Chang School has to offer by visiting Ryerson University’s education profile on TalentEgg.

Portfolio photo credit: Bill Chan’s online interior design portfolio
About the author

Cassandra Jowett is TalentEgg's Content Manager. She joined the team as a student intern in the summer of 2008, and since then her heart has never really left the Egg Carton. Cassandra is a recent graduate of the Ryerson University School of Journalism, where she earned a Bachelor of Journalism with a focus in writing and editing for newspapers. She has also written and edited for The Globe and Mail, The National Post, t.o.night newspaper and other publications.