PK Learning & Development

PK Learning & Development

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What is the role of a Design Intern?

How can I affect a huge organisation like the council in a positive lasting way? How can I demonstrate the skills and abilities to change an organisation made for sturdiness?

The answer is, by making a start.

A student entering the council will be immediately met by a wave of enthusiasm for collaboration and a willingness to affect change. The range of staff members from different departments willing to reach out is impressive and a valuable asset to the student. Staff will have a range of backgrounds, goals and ideas of what a Design Student does. This acts as a jump start for the student. Having that network immediately available and accessible means that there is no time wasted in settling in.

Why is there such an eagerness to affect change within the workplace?

It is a natural response for people to focus on the negatives of their life over the positives and sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can bring about that realisation that things are not that bad after all. It is equally plausible that staff have valid aches and pains regarding their work environment that require a fresh pair of eyes to solve the problems. It’s the job of a student to integrate themselves within the culture of the organisation to understand these complaints and to empathise with the staff. A passing complaint is nothing unless you feel the pain/frustration that led to the complaint. Empathy is a cornerstone of good design and shouldn’t just be part of a design process but rather the basis for all future work to stand upon. Gathering a range of perspectives and opinions gives you a broad base to build something strong and sturdy.

Empathy shouldn’t ever be a one-way service. It is irresponsible to expect someone to come in and fix all your problems without giving thought to their skills, resources & respective ambitions. That’s where the misconceptions of what a design student may play a part. Design is such a huge term that can mean everything yet, equally, can mean nothing.
Service Design, Product Design, Industrial Design, Inclusive Design, Co-Design & Universal Design are just a taste of what people associate with the word ‘design’. Managing expectations is something that you must be wary of. There should be a mutual agreement between staff and student that the design student may not have the skills required to solve every problem. It is about communicating effectively that although the student doesn’t have the skills to solve the problem, 90% of the time the person with the complaint has the skills to solve the problem given the right mentoring and access to resources. Each member of staff is likely to be an expert in their problem.

Real Innovation requires two things:

  1. Expertise
  2. Design Thinking

Design is just the vehicle for effective change. Experts understand the problem and can analyse solutions.

Innovation is caused by experts driving change through design.

You are the expert of your own problems.

My role is to connect knowledge of design tools and strategies to the council staff’s problems to create a partnership with effective and lasting benefits. Two directional knowledge transfer and effective, open and honest communication is key to the success of the project.