Summer internship experiences

by New Idiom


Returning students Nikki Pfarr and Amanda McKown talk about what they did over the summer.

Photo by Kristine Angell.

Internship at T-Mobile

This summer I’m working as a product development/interaction design intern at the T-Mobile Creation Center in Seattle. The Creation Center is the company’s internal innovation group, and consists of about 30 full-time employees and six interns. It’s a place where ambiguity thrives and most people play multi-disciplinary roles; so although I’m technically an interaction designer, I’ve been involved in everything from research and competitive analysis to concepting and early prototyping.

I spend most of my time working with other team members to explore opportunity spaces for new products and services. As a result I’m drawing on many skills I learned in Foundation year, including product design, competitive archetype studies, information layout, and secondary research techniques. I’m also getting an on-the-job introduction to next year’s curriculum from the other ID students interning at T-mobile. There’s a lot of creativity and imagination involved in the internship, and I’ve learned a lot about the mobile industry in a short period of time.

The Creation Center is a fun place to work; there’s always a group of people heading to nearby Pike Place Market for lunch or arranging trips to happy hours at local pubs. Since I arrived in late May, there have been several company functions - including a company picnic and a Pitch and Putt golf game. Outside of the Creation Center, T-Mobile has a formal internship program that includes an educational speaker series and networking events.

Location-wise, I’ve really enjoyed being in Seattle this summer (things were off to a rainy start in May, but around mid-June the sun came out and it’s been nice ever since). The Creation Center is located near the waterfront in downtown Seattle - right across from Pike Place Market and the Seattle Art Museum, with easy bus access to the local neighborhoods and suburbs (T-Mobile provides a bus pass). Weekends are a great time to take the bus to Portland, OR or Vancouver BC, go camping near Mt. Rainier, attend an outdoor concert, or just enjoy the city.

Internship at Stone Yamashita Partners

by Amanda McKown

SYPartners (formally Stone Yamashita Partners - but Robert Stone left) is a leadership innovation firm. They are a consultancy that works with the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to help them manage large scale change tied to their strategy. They are about 60 people and in the fall they are opening a NYC office. I’m currently on 2 projects, one is around helping an HR department determine what it means to be a strategic partner to the business and the 2nd is helping a financial services company create an experience that engages and encourages their consumers to be more involved in their investments. They build their teams with both strategists and designers. They are adamant about the importance of design in all their work, but there is a distinct split between strategy and design. All teams are very collaborative, but when it comes down to it the designer visualizes what the team (led by the strategist) has created. I was really surprised to see these roles as split - especially since our school is building people with hybrid skills- but do see some value in having specific roles. I am a intern in their strategist team and really enjoying the work - it’s a great company. Check out their recently redone website for info on their working model and some good case studies.