June 9, 2017

Intern report: Lauren Nelson at Goodyear

Lauren Nelson is a candidate in Weatherhead's MBA program.

Four years ago as I was sitting in the office of the career counselor of Teach For America Chicago, I was mapping out my dream of becoming a human-centered designer. I must admit, at the time it seemed quite lofty. I knew most people doing the jobs I aimed for had considerable experience, MBAs, and/or design degrees, hence my pursuit of Weatherhead’s design-focused MBA program. I couldn’t have imagined that in three short years I would be applying human centered design to problems around tires at a Fortune 200 company in Akron, Ohio. (Literally, who knew a tire company could be this cool?)

My first three weeks with the Goodyear Customer Centered Innovation team got off to a great start. Here are my top three highlights from the experience so far:

  1. Global collaboration. I couldn’t have started my internship with Goodyear at a better time. My start date happened to fall in the week of the Global Innovation Retreat, during which our partner team from Luxembourg joined us for a week of norming, vision-setting and team bonding. How do a bunch of business designers bond? Over computer programming, logo creation, and competing in a “hackathon”, of course! More than anything, the invaluable experience during the first week allowed me to get to know my new teammates outside of their cubicles. Because of this, and because they are awesome people in general, it was much easier to jump into the challenging and exciting projects that I have been assigned to work on this summer.
  2. Prototyping. The one thing we didn’t get to in our introductory design core MBA course was prototyping. Fortunately that gap has been filled quickly, as both of the major projects I’m working on this summer are in the prototyping stage. I’ve really experienced how the design process forces you into a “hacker” mindset - throwing together websites and apps, testing them on real users, modifying them to isolate the impact of individual variables, and making recommendations for implementation. Key lesson: a prototype does not have to be pretty to get a feel for how it might improve the customer experience.
  3. Community Service. My previous life as a teacher and my present life as a business designer united this past week. We hosted a human-centered design workshop for local middle school STEM teachers as a part of Goodyear’s Week of Volunteering. I felt all of the emotions that come with teaching: the creative pressure of planning,  the pre-lesson butterflies, the mid-lesson giddiness of students energetically engaging with the material, and the post-lesson gratification of achieving a learning transformation and high-quality end products. The teachers were complete rockstars! They were already coming up with ideas of how to implement design thinking in their classrooms, impacting the educational journeys of hundreds of students. Needless to say, I left the workshop very energized and inspired!

I look forward to the following upcoming eight weeks with Goodyear. I hope to take what I am learning in this internship to help positively influence the academic experience at Weatherhead through my roles as the VP of Academic Affairs with GBSA and as the Design TA this fall.

And to those Cavs fans who may be asking - yes I have taken full advantage of employee discounts on wingfoot Cavs gear!

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions about design, Goodyear, or life in general! And definitely check back in July for an update on the nitty-gritty of the Goodyear Customer Centered Innovation experience.

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