After finishing her associate’s degree in Graphic Design, Julia Levy was unsure of her next step. It was an experience working in retail as a visual merchandiser, combined with an interest in real estate, that brought her back to Santa Barbara City College to expand her portfolio with a degree in Interior Design.
Just months into her second degree, she enrolled in SBCC’s fall semester in Madrid and decided on an internship. “I had been told that an internship in my field might not be possible,” remembers Julia, “so I was shocked to be placed with a Spanish interior design firm. Lourdes [ACCENT Madrid Senior Programs Coordinator] worked so hard to get me that spot. It was exactly what I wanted to be doing.”
Julia interned at Pascua Ortega, a medium-sized firm with forty years’ history and a vast portfolio including residential projects, hotels, corporate spaces, and even Spanish embassies from Riyadh to Santo Domingo.
The internship experience was very hands-on, giving Julia the chance to work on residential and commercial projects, including a restaurant and event space. Together with her mentor, Claudia, Julia visited different project sites and created mood boards or carpetas with fabrics, furniture, and other details. While the software and floor plans felt familiar to Julia, the styles did not. “They used many more patterns than I was used to and elaborate wall coverings that gave a contemporary feel to traditions of older times.”
She noticed right away that the agency culture was different in Spain: “I learned so much about how things work in Spain. These projects tend to be very individual in the US, while Pascua Ortega was group-oriented and collaborative.” Claudia made sure Julia felt at home and comfortable contributing her ideas: “She brought me in like a member of the family…she would take me along to clients’ homes and other sites and then after we would sit down to exchange notes and talk about next steps,” says Julia.
Back in California, her internship experience has already paid off. Shortly after arriving home she landed another interior design internship with a small firm in Montecito.