The Summer Internship Experience

This summer, Project Invent welcomed two alumni, Justin and Maddie, as interns! With their unique student perspectives, they helped design the curriculum, create community partnerships, and prepare for the Summer Institute. Maddie, our curriculum and strategy intern shares her experience below.

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I was extremely excited to intern with Connie at Project Invent this summer after all of the great experiences I had with Stria and her class at Nueva and I can definitely say that not only were my expectations met, they were far exceeded. At our first meeting, Connie introduced me to everything on the back end of Project Invent that keeps the organization running. She walked me through what she had been working on, whether it be the curriculum, community partnerships, new school clients, or running a professional development for teachers at the end of the summer. From the start, she utilized the design thinking process and I remember having so much fun brainstorming with sticky-notes, drawing timelines and diagrams on whiteboards, and writing “how might we” questions for goals that we wanted to accomplish over the summer. I also remember being very surprised and excited at how much real work Connie was having me do—this was definitely not the picking up coffee type of internship. As weeks went on, I learned an immense amount about how to run a non-profit, how to pitch ideas, how to reach out to people and make connections, and how to work in the real world. Connie trusted me to reach out to people myself and one of the most memorable days was when I planned a full day community partnership trip to Oakland to visit numerous blind centers, disability centers, senior centers, and more. I was also able to strengthen my design and engineering skills by working on the curriculum and writing the Arduino beginner’s guide that is given to every team. Justin and I were able to share our experience through the invention process and I feel so grateful that we had so much say in what the program looks like today.

I have to say, the most spectacular part of my internship at Project Invent was definitely the people that I met. I am so thankful for our trip to Oakland and for the people we met there as I have never been in the company of such kind, passionate people, truly devoting their lives to making the world a better place. I feel like we often get so caught up in our own lives that we forget to look around and realize all of the good things happening around us. By encouraging us to reach out to our communities, Project Invent has inspired me to continue looking for opportunities to make an impact and to be a kinder, more thoughtful person in general.

Aside from meeting potential community partners, Connie and I also visited Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT) to buy prototyping materials for new teams. While there, we met her friends from 4.0 Schools who were running a design thinking for social good summer camp for children from that area. Connie and I both spoke to the kids about our experiences with designing for impact, and I really enjoyed answering their questions about what I wish I had known earlier, what to do when you lose steam, and more. I remember the excitement that flooded over their faces when they showed us their prototypes, and the pride and hope that they carried at the prospect of making something that can change the world.

In all, I have gained immense amounts of expertise, knowledge, and perspective from my internship with Project Invent and feel like I can begin the school year with an optimistic, grateful, and inspired mind.

Connie Liu