What I learned from my time as a design fellow



Six months ago, I was asked if I had any experience with the design process or design thinking during an interview. I really wanted this job, but I knew I wasn’t going to lie, so I said I had no clue. I tried to talk about some solutions to issues I could think of to salvage the interview, but I walked away feeling like an idiot. Well, something I said must have resonated because without knowing the lingo, I got the job, and everyone here has been extremely supportive. It turns out, I knew more about the design process than I had originally thought.

I learned that anyone can take part in the design process. I learned that I had somewhat already been practicing some of the steps without direction and without the fancy lingo. All you need to start the design process is the curiosity to ask questions and not accept things as they are, the willingness to step into another perspective different from your own, and the fundamental awareness of who you are serving and their needs. I’d say that my degree in sociology came in handy (to all the haters out there saying it’s a useless degree, but I’ll spare you the tangent), and I actually have tangible experience doing all these things.

I am new to ASU in general, but I learned pretty quickly that this office is a safe space to ask questions. I have had experiences with previous supervisors who only see me through my performance. At OofSI, everyone wants to show or teach you something new. My boss genuinely cares about my growth. The people here ask questions because they value my opinion and input. I came into a group of people who loves to learn from one another, and it is really contagious. I got to see people with different skills, passions, and experiences come together to find a solution and support one another. I got to see this group of people welcome my transition to the position with grace. In short, I learned what a collaborative team looks like.

One of the most important lessons that I am taking away is to trust the process and believe my work has an impact. I would receive a task that seemed very small, yet by the end of the week, I was able to see how useful it was for someone in the office to complete their job with my help. I also learned not to expect perfect work. I put my best efforts into a task and submit it to the team. Several people look it over and give feedback. That’s the culture here at OofSI. No one expects me to give perfect work (that would be unreasonable), but they do expect me to put forth my best and contribute to the team. I learned to give it my all and gain different perspectives from others, because together, we can accomplish something really great. Looking back on this experience, I am able to walk away with a clearer vision as to what kind of work environment I need to thrive and how I want to contribute to the team.