After losing my corporate summer internship this past summer due to COVID 19, I felt incredibly shocked and full of grief that an amazing opportunity had just been ripped away from me. In a time of great uncertainty and adversity, I made the choice to create opportunity for myself. SUMMR 2020 is a self started internship: made by me, for me.
Having many interests beyond the scope of my coursework at school, I decided SUMMR 2020 would be a time to explore my instinctual interests that I have ignored for far too long. The goal of SUMMR 2020 is self-discovery, building real-world skills, and genuine connection and learning from others. This goal led me to interviewing highly respected business professionals, entrepreneurs, innovators, unconventional change-makers, and much more. Here you will find their stories and advice that they have given me in which I now have digested and returned to you.
Before I could jump into interviewing folks for SUMMR 2020, I wanted to get really clear on my mission and goals for this summer as well as brand my internship. Using both analog and digital means, I was able to brainstorm and record all my ideas for SUMMR 2020 including timeline related goals as divided by weekly and monthly milestones and tasks to be completed.
I relied on quantifiable goals to help me achieve certain metrics I wanted to challenge myself with such as the number of people I sought to interview and how much content I wanted to write on my interviewees. Now having completed the project, I actually under shot on the amount of people I could speak to, and overshot on how much content I would be able to produce. I found that creating verbal content is much easier for me than written content.
In addition to quantifiable metrics, I also spent a lot of time thinking about some of my more qualitative goals including the industries I wanted to explore, and expanding my vocabulary around my varied interests. My overarching goal was to complete the following series: explore, learn, create, and document. Within each segment including subsequent goals such as learning about new industries of interest, learning how to code, reading UX/UI books, and starting my own newsletter. After that, at the time I didn’t know where it would lead but I now know my next step is using my documentation to propel me forward into my next formalized work opportunity.
When the pandemic hit, I was given the opportunity to dream so big because I had nothing to lose. I asked that if I could do anything and work anywhere, then who would I choose to be? I spent countless hours researching on LinkedIn and contacting my personal network of friends and family to explore other careers and industries beyond architecture that have always captivated my instinctual intrigue. What I came up with was a list of values and professions that I gravitate towards. To help better guide my conversations and pick my interviewees with intention, I divided up my dream jobs into a series of 3 buckets: builders, leaders, and storytellers. This became the foundation for who I picked to have my curiosity conversations with, and ultimately framed the lessons learned of how to be the best version of my professional and personal self.
As I began the process of reaching out to individuals that I wanted to interview, I was well aware that the average response rate to a cold message is about 10%. That being known up front, I quickly accumulated a long list of people. In an effort to stay organized with each of my contacts and make sure that they related to my original “buckets”, I organized my efforts into a lengthy excel sheet recording who did and did not respond so could adjust my language with each and every new contact.
Part of SUMMR 2020, in addition to all the interviews, was creating my own fully functioning and beautiful website. I needed a place to host SUMMR 2020 and all its content, yet, more importantly, I needed something that could best represent me and my past work. I noticed that creating my portfolios at school showcased my architectural work, yet they were missing major projects and parts of myself that I think are definable to my future work as a professional. In an effort to learn more about web development and product design, I created and built my own website using Webflow. The website builder that comes closest to custom coding, I had complete control and customizability with my website.
I used both analog and digital means to create this website, often ideating on trace, building wire frames on trace and using Figma, and finally building components out in Webflow. Looking back, I did know how steep the learning curve was for Webflow and could have allocated more time towards learning how to use it.
I spent many hours listening, recording, writing, and re-listening, to the 50+ curiosity conversations that I accumulated from the early summer. Many of them I made into written articles and newsletter campaigns, and others I did not. It was challenging for me to choose which interviews to expand upon, yet it was crucial for me to prioritize my time in order to draw meaningful conclusions from this experience. Looking back at SUMMR 2020, I would have spent more time with less interviewees and I would not have written an article for each person but rather posted as a podcast series as I prefer verbal to written expression.
Some of my greatest takeaways from this experience was learned lessons on how to blossom into the best version of my professional and personal self, with a deeper understanding of my own interests and values. I now see so much overlap with architecture and a variety of career paths I can pursue. Above all, I formed the vocabulary around my true passion to be at the intersection between design, business, and technology.
Here you will find how I accumulated and organized a selection of my interviewees by their industry and used affinity mapping strategies to find correlations between the conversations that I had. I assigned each person with a sticky note containing a pulled quote from our respective conversation that I think holistically expresses their major point about being a young professional and navigating the world after college.
After bringing together the pulled quotes, I then started to shuffle and organize the information by related key concepts and themes. The major themes I identified from my curiosity conversations were related to the following: faith, and the philosophical perspective on life’s purpose, self development and emotional intelligence, confronting fear, relying on like-minded people through community or a company, following your passion, and lastly relating to ambition, grit, and perseverance.
In drawing conclusions from this affinity mapping exercise, I noticed that many of the quotes seemed to relate to each other, yet had no correlation among industry. The most frequent theme that arose in my curiosity conversations was self development, with fear coming in at a close second place. What struck me the most was the fact that everyone’s perspective about life after college is quite different, and the responses from grouped industries were evenly spread across a variety of themes. This has been an incredible experience to learn from others not only about my industries of interest but to also form profound conclusions around my own values and future framework for how I live my life as a young professional.
Some of my greatest takeaways from this experience was learned lessons on how to blossom into the best version of my professional and personal self, with a deeper understanding of my own interests and values. I now see so much overlap with architecture and a variety of career paths I can pursue. Above all, I formed the vocabulary around my true passion to be at the intersection between design, business, and technology. After talking to many professionals whose expertise lie in this intersection, I have discovered my next best step in my journey to be in product design. I have a deep understanding of the human-centred design process, and an aptitude for entrepreneurship and technology. At its core, I love solving problems for other people using creativity and an iterative, hands-on process. I hope my next venture can formalize my experience in this realm. To always be updated on my professional journey, connect with me on LinkedIn.SEE MY RECENT ACTIVITY ON LINKEDIN
Part of building SUMMR 2020 was to get #educated. I read (and listened) to A LOT of books. Same story for podcasts and articles. Many of the resources were referred to me by the intelligent business professionals and entrepreneurs that I spoke to over the last few months. Other resources are just my personal favorites that I've found over the years... These resources educate, inspire, and energize. I am delighted to share them with you... make good use of them! ;)SEE ALL RESOURCES