Making an impact as an intern during the pandemic

The project topics were so inspiring and educational, like all projects Quest works on, that I left feeling fulfilled knowing my work has a purpose.

Job Searching in a Pandemic

My 2021 internship experience was one that I could have never imagined. With the current events of Covid-19, businesses suffered a lot of consequences, shifting work-life to the home environment was just one of them. Therefore, it became more challenging to find a design agency that not only fit my values but also accepted interns during the pandemic.

As I started my search, many questions began to arise; will I be able to learn new things while working virtually? Are my soft and hard skills going to improve? How will the social contact with my colleagues take place? Will I this, will I that, etc.? Ok… breathe, Joana.

All that doomsday thinking aside, maybe let’s first start looking for an internship…

Aligning Design with Values

The most important question in my search was; does this design studio have its heart in the right place? My first impression of Quest?  Definitely!

I became eager to know more about the work they do and why they do it. Now, 14 weeks and 70 good morning calls later, I can confidently say I had the most interesting, fulfilling, and instructive internship I could have wished for! 

Wanting to make the world a better place and actually working towards that goal, is what Quest does best.

Joana's virtual internship experience

The Ins and Outs of Achieving Purpose

I was immediately given the responsibility to lead one of their purpose-driven projects. My goal? Find solutions that have the most impact on development aid.

I worked to create a nonprofit organization in Uganda, starting with a strategy design workshop. During the workshop, we asked ourselves questions like; ‘How can we help people without creating dependency?’ and ‘How can we create real change for those who need it most?’ At first sight, these appear to be standard questions that every non-profit probably asks itself. We wanted to put a magnifying glass over those thoughts because this is not a one-answer kind of situation.

During this experience, I learned to design customer journeys and service blueprints for nonprofits. I noticed that if you ask these key questions at every step of the journey, even for the unambiguous tasks, you can make a difference.

This process doesn’t make the search for the right solution any easier, but nothing can be taken for granted if you strive for positive change.

Quest’s journey to Carbon Neutrality

The moment I felt the most responsibility, was when working on the carbon neutrality journey for Quest. After having done a benchmark of businesses committing to net-zero targets in line with a 1.5°C future, reading articles and papers about the carbon credit market and carbon offsetting, it became clear that Quest needed to do their journey the right way.

By the right way, I mean the most effective way; identifying real carbon removal solutions instead of relying on offsetting our non-avoidable emissions. With the team supporting my reflective point of view, the quest for the right projects could begin.

Real-life Work Experience

Luckily, my internship wasn’t completely solitary. I also got to work on the development of a circular hub based on the double diamond approach. I found it exciting to have contact with stakeholders in open-ended interviews. I also enjoyed brainstorming potential concepts in ideation workshops and aligning the outcome with those same stakeholders.

Although this last step is an important one in the design process, I didn’t have many opportunities to do this in school.

My Favorite Moments at Quest

Leaving a Lasting Impact

Since I was taking the lead on two large projects, and helping in the circular hub, the hardest task was finding balance and figuring out how to structure my work on my own.

However, the team encouraged me to draw up an action plan to reassure my progress.

Janao encouraged me to trust my gut when I was stubbornly trying to make every workshop perfect.

Joana, intern @ Quest

So to come back to all my questions and doubts at the beginning of my internship journey, was it right to worry? Yes and no.

Yes, because I feel that I could have made more progress if I was physically present at the office with colleagues looking over my shoulder.

And no, because the project topics were so inspiring and educational, like all projects Quest works on, that I left feeling fulfilled knowing my work has a purpose. I’m beyond grateful that my journey with Quest will ultimately create a better place.

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