Student Spotlight: Jerome Coloma
Major: Interior Design
Jerome Coloma needed to reconnect with his creative side.
Having earned his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in Illustration, he initially worked as a typesetter in a printing company and transitioned into project management. Then he became an assistant project manager for a commercial construction company in Chicago.
But something was missing, and Coloma – who built a strong foundation in the visual arts – searched for a career that would allow him to be creative.
“With my exposure to commercial design and development, an understanding of construction drawings, and meeting people within the architecture field, it seemed like interior design was a natural choice to explore,” he said.
After researching area colleges, Coloma chose College of DuPage, which was close, convenient, had a good reputation and economical. It turned out to be a sound decision.
“The people there were amazing, and I was lucky to have studied under so many professional, perceptive and engaging teachers with a commitment to my excellence,” he said. “Being taught in-depth about the many disciplines within interior design by passionate teachers made a world of difference. I believe that a teacher’s enthusiasm and positive relationship with the students greatly affect the quality and receptivity of the material, and many of my teachers had that.
“Even though many students tend to undervalue their general education courses, I cannot stress enough some of their importance. They’ve prepared me to go out into the world with confidence and a critical eye. My English Composition teacher, Michelle Go, and Speech professor, Lauren Morgan, opened my eyes to so many invaluable real-world skills and concepts that helped me become a more marketable professional, and they taught these things in a very fun and accessible way. All my teachers have truly been an integral part of my present – and future – successes.”
While at COD, Coloma landed an internship at Charles Spark + Company, one of the top retail design firms in the country.
“The senior designer who conducted the interview stated that my construction drawings were some of the best she had seen from a student, and another designer there stated that I had a leg up on the other applicants since some schools do not have their students complete a retail design project,” he said. “It went so well that they gave me the internship a few hours later, and I haven’t looked back since. Interior Design Professor Ann Cotton’s networking and Assistant Professor Jane Kielb’s assistance with my portfolio preparation and the quality of her studio classes gave me the edge. These things are a testament to how my teachers have helped me get my foot in the door and chisel my skills to the level that they are at now.”
Coloma, who first earned certificates for lighting design and advanced computer applications, finished his associate’s degree. As luck would have it, he secured a full-time job at Charles Sparks + Company as a designer on the team for City of Dreams – Macau, a high-profile project featuring 300,000 square feet of retail space that connects a casino, restaurant and luxury hotels and includes a new building by Zaha Hadid. He helped document coordination, SketchUp modeling and graphics.
“It was a difficult task, but the team had an incredible amount of ingenuity and grit. I stepped up into the role that was given, and I ran with it while building character and sharpening skills along the way,” he said.
Coloma has since worked on several Neiman Marcus remodels and now uses all his skills in drafting, design and rendering as he moves from project to project. Currently he’s working on Macy’s first international flagship store in Abu Dhabi.
“Upper management has enabled me to learn new skill sets, and I’m currently learning V-Ray rendering while being the senior design director’s assistant on the design of Macy’s Century City store,” he said. “I’ve been given the chance to play multiple roles on different types of projects, so the learning and growth is constant.”
Coloma would like to become a design director working on cutting-edge retail spaces and be a well-respected authority within interior design.
“Being called a ‘hall of famer’ in Interior Design magazine with projects featured in issues of VMSD and DDI would be my plateau,” he said. “I would eventually like to work from home, do murals and return to children’s book illustration as I take care of my family and settle down full circle.
“I would also like to give special acknowledgment to my wife, Andrea, as she had been a pillar of support for me going into a new career and back to school at College of DuPage. I met a lot of resistance and negativity at first from family and friends, and it was tough staying positive in a harsh and competitive job market. However, my wife and the teachers at COD have been my greatest allies throughout all the turbulence. COD’s Interior Design program has helped me become a real jack of all trades and a more mature person overall.”
College of DuPage
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