Designs on Success

Ivy Tech alumnus takes leadership role with renowned retailer

Tery Young’s career in interior design began – somewhat appropriately – in a kitchen.

In the mid-1980s, the interior design students at Ivy Tech Community College’s South Bend campus inherited a kitchen classroom from the culinary department, complete with an exhaust hood that hung over a shared work table. Using leftover colors from Young’s job at a paint shop, the students transformed the room into a space where the love of interior design became a reality.

terry young“We made it into a fun environment,” he says.

Now, nearly thirty years later, Young works as a senior director of store design for Old Navy, a Gap, Inc., company. Young describes his job as “interior design for retail spaces,” blending the needs of both the brand and consumer in an attractive, engaging way.

Young says Ivy Tech got his career off to an excellent start. He recalls how the faculty rooted the program in practicality and how the department chair made the coursework relevant.

“She made it as real world as possible,” Young says. “It gave me the ability to design with a reason.”

Young was given the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects including designing a home for a family with disabilities. The class also received feedback in the form of critiques from instructors and advanced students. Young graduated from Ivy Tech and became a successful designer in Chicago. At 28, he designed and opened a flagship store for The North Face on Michigan Avenue, a retail mecca recognized worldwide. He continued to work his way up the commercial design ladder and made his way to the West Coast, designing hotels, stores, and other commercial spaces. A blend of store design and visual merchandising has become his forte, expertise he uses every day in his current position.

Young says his success is directly attributable to his enthusiasm for his work – an enthusiasm he first discovered at Ivy Tech. He adds that Ivy Tech’s affordable tuition made it all possible.

“Thank God Ivy Tech was there and I could afford to follow my passion,” he says.

Young adds that his success is also due in part to his tenacity – and he encourages Ivy Tech students to take a similar approach in finding a career path.

“You have to be scrappy,” Young explains. “Don’t let anything hold you back, take whatever opportunity you have, and make it work.”

So the next time you’re shopping at Old Navy, take a minute to think of Tery Young’s work. It’s a great reminder of what can happen when you make the most of what you’re given and follow your passion along the way.

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