2018 is the year of the student

The team at the Design Thinking Initiative has been focusing on how to elevate student opportunities for learning and action.

What could we do to enhance students’ sense of agency?

What is the best way to respond to student questions about exploring the world and playing a leading role in making change?

How can we increase student ownership of the Design Thinking Initiative?

We started the year with these questions and it led us to a few key insights: we need more opportunities for students to apply the design thinking skills they are learning during the year. We want students to be exposed to new contexts, both local and global, that are richly challenging and authentic. In design thinking, insights of this kind lead to prototypes… and we are prototyping just that: a Design Immersion Experience for students starting in summer 2018.

The Design Immersion Experience offers fully-funded international engagements that match students to early-stage organizations for a summer of testing out ideas and designing for impact. All students are invited to participate, whether it’s their first time or third time using design thinking.

The design immersion experience

The goal is to amplify the pockets of creative work or design already at Smith. The immersions will be customized to meet the interests and skills of each student. Each immersion will entail assessing and responding to the needs of the partner organization, traveling to and living in a new social context, and combining skills you have learnt in college as well as design thinking process and techniques.

Design thinking is an active process of learning how to become more collaborative, experimental, human-centered, and mindful or metacognitive about process. Becoming a design thinker means developing fluency in shifting back and forth from analytical thinking to playful and unbounded creativity. It involves reframing how problems are understood, developing prototypes you can learn from, immersing projects in lived experiences, and constantly making revisions.

All students are eligible to apply—including graduating seniors. It might be your first time hearing about design thinking – apply! You might have an unconventional interest – apply! You might have no idea what you want to do after college – apply!

The application is made up of two rounds.

Round 1 is a simple form and a video due Friday 9 February at 11.59pm. Make a 2-3 minute video. Introduce yourself and a topic you are passionate about. Tell us about something you’ve learnt in the last 5 years. In what ways would you use this to create impact? The videos do not need to be professionally edited, we are more interested in what you have to say.

Some students will be invited for Round 2, a 45-minute in-person interview with our team. These interviews will be scheduled during the weeks of February 12th and 19th, with finalists announced on February 28th.

Scroll down below to apply!

The requirement for Round 1 of the Design Immersion Experience application is a 2-3 minute video. If you have never created a video before, don’t panic. It can be as straightforward as recording yourself on your phone, laptop, or at one of the workstations on campus. 

What should I talk about in my video? Think of a script before you start. Tell us a story that gives a good sense of who you are, a topic you are interested, and what you want to do with your smarts and energy that could have some impact on the world. Get adventurous with the format and content – it’s your chance to shine and we’re looking forward to learning about you! If you’re stuck, as a friend or someone you trust, “What’s the most amazing this about me?” and use their response as inspiration. 

We are looking for students with a demonstrable passion and interest in thinking and working globally during the summer. We are looking for risk-takers who know how to work hard and students who enjoy solving puzzles creatively and learning from mistakes. We will match students to organizations during the spring semester. We will cover students’ travel and living expenses during the immersion.

Students will participate in orientation sessions during spring semester and a week-long design thinking workshop before they leave for their immersion in the summer.

Returning students (first years, sophomores, and juniors) will need to present on their immersion in the following fall semester and serve as ambassadors for future cohorts.  Graduating seniors who will not be returning as students are still eligible for immersions but will have a different requirement. They will be required to prepare a multimedia report due at the end of their immersion experience.  

Everywhere! If you are chosen for this pilot program, we will match your special skills and interests with an exciting emerging company—you may travel to anywhere in the world!


Please use the Google form below to submit your application. If the Google form does not appear on your browser, then please submit the following information via email at Capen@SmithiesDesign.com, Subject: Design Immersion Experience

Name (First Last) *

Email Address *

Class Year *

Major, Minor, Concentration *

Make a 2-3 minute video. Introduce yourself and a topic you are passionate about. Tell us about something you’ve learnt in the last 5 years. In what ways would you use this to create impact? Include a url for the video in your email. *

Got more questions? Contact the team: ask@smithiesdesign.com

Other Opportunities

Are you interested in user experience, usability, or ethnography? Are you looking for a work study job?

Smith Libraries has several projects planned for this semester and they need your help!
Applications for the 2018 Italia Innovation Programs are now open!
1st Session: 4 June – 22 June, Italy
2nd Session: 25 June – 13 July, Italy
Make your summer unforgettable with a fully-immersive learning experience in Italy: a unique entrepreneurial journey where international thought and business leaders mentor multidisciplinary teams of international students to inspire the innovation of Italian industries and its most iconic brands.
Over the two sessions, 5 innovation programs are offered, each led by a distinguished Academic Director:
– Artisanship at Scale led by Roy Green (former Dean of UTS Business School)
– The Fate of The West led by Bill Emmott (former Editor-in-Chief of The Economist)
– Responsible Success led by Robert Strand (Director, UC Berkeley Center for Responsible Business)
– Disruptive Quality led by Riccardo Illy (Food Entrepreneur)
– Democratizing Design led by Francesca Molteni (Design Entrepreneur)
Jake Knapp (author, The Sprint Book and IDEO Fellow), Design Director for the 2018 Italia Innovation Programs, will lead a 5-day Sprint Workshop for the closing week of each program.
Participants will also receive the mentorship of a unique team of experts and professors like Vincent Stanley and Nora Gallagher (Patagonia), Debra Dunn (Stanford d.school), Stewart Thornhill (Michigan Ross), Scott Hartley (author, The Fuzzy and The Techie) as well as Italian entrepreneurs and forward-thinking business leaders.
Company visits throughout Italy alongside hands-on lectures, design exercises and inspirational talks in the Italia Innovation Studio will foster the industry understanding and boost team creativity.
The partner companies are leading brands of the Made in Italy business sectors (Fashion, Food and Wine, Design, Arts and High-end Manufacturing). Past partner companies include Ermenegildo Zegna, United Colors of Benetton, Salvatore Ferragamo, Woolrich, Barilla, illy coffee, Santa Margherita Wine Group, Molteni&C, Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana.
We really believe in innovating the Italian economy. Do you?
Apply now and please note that scholarships are available!
SEPTEMBER 2018 – JUNE 2019
  • Open to all graduates; focus on women
  • Full-time
Designed to complement our nine-year-old True Entrepreneur Corps program, the Priya Haji Fellowship matches recent college graduates with companies in the True portfolio.
This nine-month fellowship begins September 1, 2018, and gives young entrepreneurs the chance to get their foot in the door in high growth startups in the True portfolio in areas including engineering, business development, customer success, product and more.

Our fellows will gather periodically with the True Ventures team and participate in annual True network events to develop a broader perspective on the venture capital process and the Bay Area startup ecosystem.

For more information, visit www.trueventures.com/PHF or email PHF@trueventures.com.