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When I first moved back to San Diego after having graduated college seven years earlier, I was anxious about being back. Most of my friends from college had since left, and I was making the switch from residential to commercial and hospitality design.

I was in the midst of taking my NCIDQ exams, studying hard for the IDPX. I noticed a flier in the break room at work for an NCIDQ study group, and I decided to go. Not only was the study group the extra boost I needed to stay on track with studying, I became friends with the co-chairs of Professional Development who were leading the group. I passed my exam and at the same time had inadvertently started building my San Diego network.

A couple of months later I joined the ranks of the IIDA San Diego City Center as co-chair of Professional Development. Since then, I held my own Study Group session on behalf of the San Diego City Center, passed the Practicum, and spent two years as the co-chair of Advocacy. In July, I assumed the role of President-Elect for the Southern California Chapter.

Through my experience with IIDA, not only have I gained a wealth of knowledge about the commercial and hospitality design industry, I have established a solid network of like-minded interior designers and industry members – some of whom are great friends. Through these leadership positions, I have developed skills and tactics to assist me in client meetings and large team-based projects.

My membership in IIDA has proven to be a worthy investment. And it is important to remember that it is just that: an investment – in yourself and in your career. And I strongly believe that you get out of it nothing less than what you put into it.

The mission of IIDA is to provide meaningful resources to commercial designers and their clients in order to advance the profession and business value. And that is exactly what IIDA has done for me.

Katie Toth, IIDA, LEED Green Associate
President-Elect, IIDA Southern California
katie.toth@iida-socal.org