Berkeley Today Stories

Amanda Amato is a Berkeley College alumna.

Alumna Begins Interior Design Career at Berkeley College

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Amanda Amato’s dreams of a successful interior design career started at a young age as she watched her family operate a construction business. “I was surrounded by the architectural side of the industry, but I wanted to develop my skills and understand all the fundamentals of interior design,” she said. “I knew I would need my degree to succeed. As the first child to have the opportunity to go to college, I felt incredibly honored.”

Looking for a hands-on learning environment, Ms. Amato began taking courses at Berkeley College both online and on site in Paramus and Woodland Park, NJ, graduating in 2012 with a B.S. in Interior Design. With guidance from professors like Alfonso Torino, Ph.D., Chair, Interior Design, Ms. Amato learned how to expand upon her design skills. “Professor Torino would always ask questions that I hadn’t even considered when designing,” she said. “I still ask myself those same questions today as I design rooms to not only look beautiful but to be functional as well.”

A resident of Pompton Lakes, NJ, Ms. Amato got a taste of interior designing while working full-time at Pier 1 Imports in Riverdale, NJ, while she was taking courses at Berkeley. She started as a cashier before being promoted to Visual Merchandiser. However, Ms. Amato credits an internship with wallcovering company Phillip Jeffries in Fairfield, NJ, which was arranged through the Berkeley College Career Services, with kick-starting her interior design career. After her internship led to a full-time position there, she went on to interior design roles at Thomasville Furniture and Funk Design Studio before becoming Senior Interior Designer at Boonton, NJ-based firm Polo M.A. Inc.

As she continues her work at Polo M.A. Inc., Ms. Amato runs her own interior design company, AMA Designs. She also volunteers her design skills to charitable causes, including the renovation of the kitchen at Great Notch Fire Co. in Little Falls, NJ. Ms. Amato also worked closely with interior designer Nicole Facciuto to help redesign a soup kitchen in Newark, NJ, for an episode of Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible.

“It has been my dream to have my own interior design company, and work with a team of other creative individuals to provide interior design services,” Ms. Amato said. “I hope to grow the company internationally and develop home products, including a line of fabric, furniture, and décor.”

Berkeley College 85th anniversary success story
Up Close with Amanda Amato

What does success mean to you?

Success to me means achieving the goals that I set for myself, both personally and professionally. Goal-setting is a daily habit of mine. I set small attainable goals to get closer to achieving my dreams.

What initially inspired you to enroll in Berkeley College?

After going on many college tours, I had the strongest connection with Berkeley College. I instantly connected with the location, the size, and the people during one of the tours. I graduated from a small high school with about 120 students, so I prefer intimate classrooms where I could get more help from the teachers. I knew I wouldn’t have thrived in a larger setting.

How did Berkeley College prepare you for success?

The Career Services Department was wonderful and the catalyst to my success. My internship led to a full-time job where I had the opportunity to work at an international wall covering company. All the design courses that were tailored to my major also really helped me. Professor Alfonso Torino made the History of Furniture exciting to learn. He was always picking my brain and getting me to think from a different perspective. I also loved the Rendering class. The teacher took the time to help each individual student improve their drawing and rendering techniques. His help took my drawing to the next level.

In which way(s) do you see yourself being successful in the future?

I envision myself running my interior design business full-time with a team of creative individuals.

What advice would you offer today’s college-bound students?

My advice to students today is to get involved in your desired field early. Finding a job in my industry while attending school allowed me to build my portfolio and gave me additional experience. I also recommend continuing your education. It is so important to stay current and constantly evolving, especially with the growth in technology.

What was your most memorable moment at Berkeley College?

My most memorable moment was graduating with my Bachelor’s degree. I will never forget that moment when I walked across the stage waving my diploma.

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