How hospitality gave this alumna an edge for a promising design career.
After graduating from IHTTI – recently integrated into SHMS – in 2018, Pascale Müller’s career began immediately, as she found a job working at Atelier Zürich, a design studio in Zurich.
Early in her studies, this half Swiss, half Swedish alumn knew that her future lay in the design industry – ever since then, she has been single-mindedly working towards her goal. Within six months of working for Atelier Zürich, she was promoted to Junior Designer. Three years later, she is in charge of her own, smaller projects in both the residential and the hospitality sectors.
What piqued your interest in the world of design?
In high school, I studied biology and chemistry and I was planning to pursue a career in that field. Then, my first job as a waitress changed my mind as I really enjoyed getting to know different people and hearing their stories.
The restaurant was great to work in, but looked very old-fashioned and badly needed a makeover. This is how I got interested in interior design and the role it plays in creating specific moods and environments.
I couldn’t choose whether to study hospitality or design, so when I discovered the program at IHTTI that combines both of these things, the dilemma was resolved!
What was the highlight of your time at IHTTI?
Socially, it was meeting people from all over the world. I now have friends in New Zealand, Hong Kong SAR, the USA, all over Europe, and in Africa.
Academically, it was designing a hotel for our final project. This project was really about ‘fusing’ all our hospitality and design knowledge to create something unique. For the project, we received a client brief specifying the target audience, number of floors, rooms, and so on, just as would be the case in a real-life situation at a design agency. Within the information given, we were free to develop our ideas as we wished.
I was fascinated by how different each concept was, even though everyone started with an identical assignment.
What kind of career support did you receive during your studies?
The internship office was very helpful, with a mix of one-on-one coaching, workshops, and classes on CV writing, personal presentation, and interview tips and techniques.
We had an amazing, very approachable internship ambassador who prepared me for my first Skype interview as I was absolutely terrified. He explained the process, what to do and not to do, gave me some great advice so that I felt really prepared.
The general atmosphere at the school also helped me become a more open, proactive person and made me aware of my strengths and weaknesses.
How easy was it to find a design job after graduating?
During my studies, I got some design experience with two internships in London and Zurich. I worked hard and the same agency in Zurich hired me shortly before graduation. I’ve been there ever since, for approximately three years now, and was promoted to Junior Designer quite quickly. Now I’m very excited to be heading up my own smaller projects.
How relevant is your hospitality experience in the design industry?
Technical hospitality skills acquired during my studies have proven to be very useful: I am often put on hospitality-related projects and asked for my opinion and input.
The soft skills we developed are no less important. My manager doesn’t worry about taking me to external meetings as I am courteous, diplomatic, and know how to treat a client.
The combination of hospitality and design has given me so much more than a design degree on its own could ever do. Technical skills can be learned as you go, but soft skills are what really set you apart from other professionals in the field.
Discover our programs with specializations here.