Design Thinking and Creative Problem Solving

Katya Mata
Emphasis Area
Public Health

Katya Mata interned with the University of Arizona Design Project and applied design thinking and creative problem solving strategies to make important contributions to the UA Cares program.

How did you get your internship and why did you choose it?

During PAH 383 Pre-Internship: Building Career Readiness, the Internship Director Stephanie Springer was handing out internship fliers and included on one of the fliers was the Design Projects Summer Internship. Several weeks later, after applying for and considering several other internships, I was still looking for the right opportunity, so I looked again to see what internships existed at the University of Arizona. I saw the Design Projects Summer Internship advertisement again, and read more about and felt that it looked interesting, especially because I could gain more skills and get experience in design thinking. I decided to apply. After a few days, I had an interview with one of the program managers, and I got an offer immediately after my interview.

What kind of work did you do throughout your internship?

I worked with a team of interns on real-world projects with a campus partner, UACares. My team had to solve the UACares social media platform to spread awareness. We used design thinking and other creative problem-solving techniques. We met with several stakeholders, from the UA Bookstore manager to the E-sport arena manager. At the end of the internship, we presented our recommendations to UACares' coordinator, Nick Hilton, and our colleagues.

Through this experience, I strengthened my public speaking, communication, and collaboration skills. I learned different creative problem-solving techniques, including design thinking and systems thinking. I meet with my group and mentors weekly to develop potential solutions using storyboards and other story-based strategies, including "Picture This." After developing our solutions and creating a presentation, we gave a formal presentation in front of our colleagues, program managers, and community partners. 

What advice do you have for other students as they search for their internship?

Know that your internship does not have to align with your major. Getting experience and strengthening your skills is important to stand out in the real world.