"How Lucky I am to Have Something that Makes Saying Goodbye Hard" – Winnie the Pooh

By Sophie Fain, Winter Design Intern

When applying to be a winter design intern this past October, I came across a speech from the former Chief Marketing Officer of Frog Design, Tim Leberecht. He shared a story about two design companies undergoing a merger. In hope of rallying excitement and kicking off the merger on an upbeat note, the new company leadership planned to send every employee a token orange balloon representing the unified brand. But at the last minute, the idea was scrapped due to budget limitations. Sometime later the merger fell apart, with both companies experiencing significant financial losses.

Winter Design Intern - Sophie Fain - Industrial Designer

While the balloons were clearly not an essential component of the merger, Leberecht believed that it was a “cut the balloons” mentality that led to the merger’s demise. His point being that employee investment—no matter how small—is what sets a company apart. This takeaway really stuck with me through my internship at Tekna. I can attest to the importance of employee investment, how going the extra mile fosters talent, confidence, and loyalty. On my first day at Tekna’s Innovation Studio, I was greeted with a stack of personalized business cards and a welcome kit that set the tone for the next several months where I would call Tekna home.

Since January, I’ve been included in numerous projects across a diverse set industries, from medical to consumer. I’ve worked through iterative mock-ups, improved my CAD modeling skills, assisted with hands-on experiments/testing, and produced more sketches than I can count. I’ve taken part in competitive benchmarking and brainstorming sessions, synthesized research, and created cohesive client presentations. All along the way, I received insightful feedback and advice that challenged and inspired me. Each of these experiences has contributed to my newly holistic view of the design process, but it was the direction and mentoring that simply cannot compare to anything I’ve experienced in a university setting.

A testimony to Tekna’s generous investment in my education and experience, I’ve felt more like a teammate than a design intern since day one. From orchestrating manufacturing tours and chili cookoffs to challenging me to a hand of Dutch blitz—or group yoga—during lunch breaks, the people at Tekna have managed to create a culture that is equally fun and inclusive as it is hard working. It didn’t take long for me to recognize how lucky I’ve been to collaborate with such exceptionally creative and caring individuals. Whether it’s an orange balloon or a business card with an orange dot, thank you Tekna for investing in me beyond my expectations and for setting the bar so high!

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