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January 30, 2019

Solving Problems with Stanford Design Summer Students

Two years ago, I struck a conversation with David Kelley and Bill Burnett at Stanford about how the days of lifelong careers are long gone. As soon as students graduate, their task isn’t just to find a job, but rather to continue navigating ever-changing industries and new problems that don’t even exist yet. But there seems to be a lack of opportunities for students to start thinking that way. There need to be more invitations and support for students to launch off campus and into meaningful experiences.

The Test!

This wasn't an especially novel conversation for us, but this time we stumbled on a way to test something new. Bill and David were looking for new ways to support Product Design students at Stanford to think more creatively and intentionally about their summers — an obvious gap right in the middle of the higher ed experience.

We Started Building

We wrote curriculum and classes focused on four key pillars: Self-Awareness, Community Building, Storytelling, and Career Navigation. We've been teaching those workshops throughout the year to prepare students for the summer — all under the program title, Design Summer.

Connecting Students and Companies/Orgs

Last fall, a friend and I led the build-out of our very first piece of software — a simple tool for companies/teams to post summer projects and connect with students. It's one-part job board and one-part dating site for companies to meet students who could work on projects over the summer. It's still a prototype, but it works!

This is where you come in!

Do you have a sticky challenge that needs support this summer? Something where you need a fresh set of eyes/ears/hands from a student who's well-versed in product design, user research, manufacturing, or engineering? You can now post your project at http://designsummer.stanford.edu to connect with students who may be able to help.

Starting the conversation

Your summer project can be remote or in-person. It can last anywhere from one week to a full summer. And it can include a list of tasks related to solving a specific problem with your current product, researching or prototyping a new product or service, helping to streamline an internal process, or connecting with your customers and stakeholders. Basically, if you need a hand, try posting a project. All we ask is that you consider compensation (hourly, stipend, project fee, and/or other helpful resources) so students can cover their way — all of which can be discussed once you connect with a student you hope to work with.

The Deadline

Posting a project takes less than 3 minutes and doing so simply opens a window for students to reach out and learn more. Submissions are open through Wednesday, February 13th.

That's it!

The hope is that as this takes flight here, we can share tools and resources for drawing more bridges between all academic institutions and the workplace in a way that serves both sides well. So thanks for considering ways to jump in with us. Can't wait to see what you share! http://designsummer.stanford.edu

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