The learning journey continues…

At the blink of an eye, I have come to the end of my internship here at Sauder 3 months have passed, and it’s just amazing time flies. I just thought I would end my internship and my last blog post with a reflection of my journey.

If there’s one thing I would miss about this workplace, it would be the incredible freedom and trust given by my supervisors. In here, I learned to work at my own pace, practice self-learning, and ask numerous questions. When I first entered the white painted walls with sticky notes on the whiteboards (a.k.a the studio!), I had no idea what strategic design or design thinking was. But within a month of intensive reading (no kidding!) and researching, I can share with you what design thinking is, which organizations and schools are using it, and what strategic techniques can we use.

Design thinking is a thinking process. It’s not the traditional kind where you meet a problem, come up with a solution, perform the solution, and that’s it! It’s a form of a process that brings you through a journey of asking questions to reveal deep insights, using thinking techniques (that will be made available on our website at a certain point of time) to generate solutions, and trying them out to see if it works. It’s not the solution that counts, but the process of discovering findings, because through the process, individuals gather stronger insights and solutions that might be different from their original aim. Design thinking is used to solve complex problems. Organizations like P&G, Rocky Mountain Chocolate and lululemon are using them. As a student, I would use them in any classes or cases that require strategy development.

Don’t worry. I’m not here to rant about what design thinking is. That’s just a glimpse of the bigger picture.

Well, during my time here, I’ve interviewed alumni, written multiple blog entries about innovation, strategic design, design education, researched and wrote about design strategies, and brainstormed about how we could redesign the website. The list continues… Sounds like a communications job yeah? Although not explicitly stated, I thought so too.

Frankly speaking, I used to think that being able to work in a brand management company means success. In short, marketing = brand management. Don’t get me wrong; I still think it’s awesome and hope to have that experience someday. But from this internship, I have learned that there are many facets of marketing, and the ability to be creative and to pen down your thoughts in a concise fashion are as challenging as managing a product. Each role has its own importance. From my experience here, it has given me the confidence to practice self-learning and to discover my strengths.

I think I have mentioned that we operate like a design process a thousand times in other posts. Okay, yes, I think that’s an exaggeration, but I’ve definitely mentioned it a couple of times. Students taking COMM 388: Design strategies for business innovation: studio practice will experience a challenging ride of practicing strategic design, while I have been exposed to it as I interned here. From leading brainstorming sessions to coming up with ideas for weekly blog entries, I have never failed to ‘ask’ questions, ‘try’ different prototypes and ‘do’ the actual work. I’m still learning to ask questions …

I remembered a alumnus telling me that by taking the class, he realized that people needed time to break away from the traditional education of getting good grades and maintaining a “great teacher-student relationship”. As strategic design is more about a development process rather than simply being results driven, people need time to adjust to it. Just like any studio-learning experience, my supervisors’ and colleagues’ support to my continual questioning and dare-to-try attitude during this work experience has allowed me to ponder on my definition of success and discover my strengths.

Thank you Moura, Denise, Andreanne, and Chris for this learning experience! Last but not least, I’m saying farewell to the Mac computer…


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