Margaret McMahon From Temp to Managing Director
Today in the Lounge Nick speaks with Margaret McMahon, the Managing Director for Wimberly Interiors from WATG. Margaret talks about her unusual introduction into the interior design world, what her job at WATG entails, and what she looks for when she hires interns.
Getting to Know Margaret
Margaret McMahon grew up in Douglaston, Queens. Her favorite vacation spot is Ireland. She loves road trips, the people and the bad weather from there. She went to school and attended SUNY Albany and then DIS, Danish International Studies in Copenhagen. Beer, wine, or cocktail? She hasn’t had alcohol in 9 years. She pretends to be drinking with a club soda, cranberry juice, and a lime.
How Margaret Got Her Start
When her father refused to pay for law school, Margaret windsurfed and smoked pot instead. Her mother ended up helping her by telling her to go to Kelly Services, a temp agency, and find a job. Trisha Wilson Associates was hiring for someone to cut matboards. Margaret was hired and ended up helping put together a presentation for the bankers’ trust offices in Cairo, Egypt. She also took out the trash and got doughnuts. Margaret earned her two-year certificate in interior design at night while working for Trisha. She says that she learned things in school but in the ends was trained most by her clients. Not to mention Trisha Wilson was an amazing mentor.
WATG is an international architecture firm. Wimberly Interiors is the interior design firm within WATG. She has been with the firm for seven years. She is the Managing Director at Wimberly Interiors. Starting out, her job was to assess the business and open up a studio in New York. Her first year was tough because no one knew that she was coming into the firm. Today, Margaret’s day to day really varies. She helps out the other WATG firms in Singapore or LA if they need help they help and vice versa. She often travels for projects. Margaret looks at proposals, manages staffing, and oversees financial work. There are some days where is she is completely bogged down with admin work that going out to the floor and just looking at the designs helps her unwind. She is very good at critiquing and giving advice on projects. Her job has no set definition because it changes every day.
What Margaret Looks for in an Intern
As an intern, or someone looking to get into the industry, you have to be willing to make it happen. Young people have to remember that this business is a learning process. Margaret doesn’t care where you went to school, what really matters is your work ethic and your outlook on life. They absolutely look at portfolios and resumes when hiring. If you don’t’ have the same opportunities as someone going to a private school, if you’re going to a public university or community college, you can still get the same opportunities, it just depends on how you author yourself. Even if your portfolio isn’t all that great you can still sell yourself. Margaret and her team will certainly give you a try if you show you are worth it. Even if you are not required to do an internship for credit, Margaret highly recommends getting one to receive experience in the field. If you’re passionate enough about the job you want and you do what it takes, you will be successful.
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