Alumni Profile: TLC ‘Training Spaces’ winner exceeds his own expectations
Thursday, April 25, 2019
Written by: Emily Hollingshead
Jason Valentin has a talent for surprising himself. When a friend tagged him on a Facebook casting call for TLC’s “Training Spaces” competition, he didn’t expect the agency to reach out to him. He exceeded his expectations again when he won the competition and was chosen out of six up-and-coming designers to appear as designer Frank Bielec’s assistant for an episode of the hit show “Trading Spaces.” Through it all, his hard work and humble nature see him through challenges, and the accomplishments keep coming.
In the beginning, though, Valentin didn’t even expect to become an interior designer. After one year in the snow at the University of Buffalo, the then theater-and-dance major Valentin followed his family when they moved from New York to Florida. Transferring to Seminole State College of Florida in 2008, he looked for a career path he thought would bring a more stable paycheck than his professional salsa dancing and landed in the Interior Design program.
Originally expecting it to be an easy way out of school, Valentin soon found he was wrong. “My first year I did so bad in school,” he said. “I failed all my classes. It was a big academic shock to what I thought I signed up for.” However, after taking the summer off and deciding what he wanted to do with his time, he chose to come back and pursue the full bachelor’s degree at the College. “Fall semester I came back for my second year in the program; I chopped my hair off, had a whole new look and then was a straight ‘A’ student ever since,” Valentin said.
Like a lot of people, he first assumed that interior design was simply decorating. What he found instead was a degree that combined artistic style with a strong technical background of construction and building codes. The drafting and engineering software classes he took at Seminole State opened his eyes to a complex side of interior design that he fell in love with. On the day of his graduation in 2013 Valentin surprised himself again when he found out he was graduating magna cum laude from the College with his Bachelor of Applied Science in Interior Design.
Now, as an interior design coordinator with the Miami-based firm Stantec, Valentin works on designing large multifamily residential buildings such as luxury apartment complexes. “At the end of the day, you are designing a space for people to live in,” Valentin said. He finds gratification in seeing the project through from the beginning concepts to the end realization. Friends send him selfies from their apartment buildings, and he gets the thrill of seeing them live in projects he has helped create.
Valentin confidently says that this is the career for him and is an active member of his professional community. He is the director of communications for the South Florida chapter of the International Interior Design Association and was the chair of their largest event, Design Mix 2019, a show that pairs industry members with design firms to create a wearable and fashionable garment out of interior design materials.
For students interested in pursuing interior design, Valentin strongly suggests doing the research ahead of time to figure out what they are getting into. “You know, the aesthetics is fun and pretty but I like that you need a strong technical background of construction, building codes and ADA codes,” said Valentin. “We’re not just pillow fluffers.” He also suggests reaching out to program managers or faculty to get information about the expectations and coursework ahead of time to make sure it is the right fit.
Social Media Handles:
LinkedIn: Jason Valentin
Seminole State College of Florida, established in 1965, serves nearly 30,000 students across six sites in Central Florida. A comprehensive college, Seminole State has awarded more than 100,000 credentials, from bachelor's degrees to high school diplomas, and offers more than 200 degrees, certificates and programs designed for success. For more about the college, visit seminolestate.edu, like us on Facebook at facebook.com/seminolestate and follow us on Twitter: @seminolestate. #SSC #GoStateGoFarAbout the Interior Design program
Seminole State College offers the only four-year public interior design program in Central Florida. The program prepares students for the professional industry by providing knowledge and skills to solve a variety of design problems with the core value of protecting the health, safety and welfare of the public. For more information, visit the Interior Design website.