RingCentral mentors interns from Silicon Valley’s famous d.tech High School – “the ultimate incubator.”
d.tech is a free public charter high school that offers high school students applied practice in “design thinking”—a problem-solving method developed at the Stanford Design School. When applied to real-world challenges, design thinking helps adherents develop the collaborative confidence and emotional intelligence necessary to ideate, iterate and collaborate successfully in the real world.
Priscilla Shaw, UX Program Manager and leader of this year’s d.tech program.
Even virtually, excitement is contagious
RingCentral is currently mentoring a group of d.tech students, and according to Principal UX Program Manager Priscilla Shaw, they’re making the most of the opportunity—even if they can’t be here in person. “Working virtually is obviously challenging, but we’ve definitely managed. We use the tools we build here, make sure they’re able to interact with people easily, and then we have daily “stand-up” meetings with them so they feel connected to us. The students are really impressive — one of the interns is super-excited about being an inventor and talking about technology and better understanding that way of thinking and coming up with something new…she’s just super excited to be here, and as a group they’re really seeing it as a great opportunity.”
Not their first rodeo
Even though these are high school students, for many, this is not their first internship. Shaw sees that experience making d.tech‘s time with RingCentral more valuable. “Luckily they have a lot of opportunities these days – one girl was telling me she’d already interned at NASA, which obviously sounds pretty cool. There are opportunities all over the place – from the ASPCA to tech companies…just everywhere. So for a few, this is a brand new experience, but for a surprising number of them, it’s not.
We have them working on two projects. One is with a design lead mentor who is taking two of the interns through a redesign of our emojis for Glip. The other project has to do more with the integrations team – a designer and product manager are pulling the interns into an integration project between Asana and our product, so it’s helping the interns understand what it’s like to be a designer, what it’s like to be a product manager, and how those two roles actually work together.
Inspiration to presentation
We pack a lot into a two-week program. According to Shaw, success comes from a combination of concentrating on the individual, and the experience. “There’s a design workshop where (the interns) are asked to solve a problem in a collaborative way; where they’re really applying design thinking, and then a presentation at the end, which is valuable in terms of what it’s like to bring a project to life in the real world. I actually bring my interns to Toastmasters to teach them presentation skills and really be able to showcase the work they did.”
Sharpening our own leadership skills
At the end of the day, Shaw says we’re learning as much from the d.tech interns as they are from us.”When you have an intern, it isn’t about having them do stuff for you it’s about teaching them something. So the d.tech program has really become an opportunity for our teams to practice developing leaders and to strengthen that leadership muscle of helping someone else succeed, how am I helping somebody else, learn something. I think it’s a win-win in that way. We’re helping these students but also helping ourselves.”
Originally published Mar 25, 2021