Nancy Donsbach believes every piece of furniture has its own personality. As an avid do-it-yourselfer for many years, she constantly spotted ways to breathe new life into old chairs and tables. Her passion for furniture design eventually led Donsbach to Mesa Community College, where she earned a Certificate in Mechanical Drafting in 2006. While finishing up her schooling, she acquired a full-time position as a furniture designer with All Wood Treasures in Tempe.
“For me, this is my dream job,” said Donsbach, a former stay-at-home mother of four children. “Furniture is a very personable expression of who you are and it’s satisfying to be a part of that.”
When Donsbach first entered MCC, she knew she wanted to build and design custom furniture, but there was no program specifically for that career path. She took several classes that interested her—woodworking, drafting, and interior design—and turned to MCC drafting program director Todd Verch and manufacturing technology program director Tom Reyman for advice.
“They helped me choose classes that would be helpful to my career pursuit,” Donsbach said. “I took classes in three different areas and found instructors who were excited about the same things I was. They exposed me to the career possibilities and it was really neat how it all came together and I was able to make it work.”
Donsbach said that while at MCC, she did a massive amount of research and created a huge notebook full of furniture styles for her History of Modern Architecture class. When she applied for her current job, she took the notebook to the job interview.
“It was an impressive amount of work I had done,” said Donsbach, who is convinced that the notebook helped get her hired. “They could see I wasn’t afraid to do research and find designs.”
Today Donsbach uses that knowledge, along with her drafting skills, to design furniture and generate AutoCAD drawings to fit customer requests. She’s not in the shop making the furniture herself, but her woodworking skills help her understand how to design the piece with an eye toward how they will be built.
Donsbach would ultimately love to own her own furniture design shop, but her current job is exactly what she was seeking to find when she started at MCC.
“I tell everyone, ‘Don’t settle for just a job you like, do something you absolutely love,’ ” Donsbach said.
This alumni profile first appeared in the Spring 2007 edition of Alumni & Friends, a publication for the Mesa Community College Alumni Association. http://mesacc.edu/sites/default/files/pages/section/about-mcc/institutional-advancement/communications/Spring07AF.pdf