A talk with our intern Bente

It is the 21st of January: Blue Monday. Now that the holidays are over, many of us are faced with all the pressures and stress of the new year. However, if we believe in ourselves and stay open minded, we can turn frowns into smiles this 2019.

Quick background on me, 5 months ago, I travelled from Amsterdam to Cape Town to do my internship at FONK. I was feeling very anxious about my first time far away from home not knowing what to expect from South Africa or FONK.

The most important things I’ve learned during these months:

  1. Use your own experiences and knowledge to build a well-thought out concept/product.

Something that I’ve learned is that some applications / solutions already exist in other countries, but not yet in South Africa (or vice versa). For example: a product South Africa could benefit from is: Tikkie. This is a Dutch app linking all of the banks making it easier for people to transfer money to each other in just a few clicks, and cutting out the discussions about who is going to pay the bill.

2. Working with people from various backgrounds makes for interesting discussions and insights.

The projects at FONK are really diverse, it could either be a project enabling second-hand gadget donations to the less fortunate, or simply an app about wine tasting. It is interesting to see and experience the diversity here in South Africa compared to the Netherlands. Working in a new environment is fun and exciting.

3. Don’t be scared to show your ideas — no idea is wrong.

We often have ‘Design Thinking’ workshops at FONK. These workshops exist of four sprints namely: the opportunity, design, market validation & development sprints. I was mainly part of the first two, working with the whole team for a few consecutive days to generate as many ideas as possible. Within those days it is vital to put all of your ideas on the table because they could spark something brilliant from someone else. Communication and research is key. Use your own experiences to inspire and improve the problem at hand. There is no need to reinvent the wheel!

4. Criticism can either break or make a great leader or designer.

In order to be a great digital designer you need to consistently iterate your designs as often as possible. “Digital Design is like painting, except the paint never dries”. Being able to take criticism is important to become a great designer.

5. Don’t stress too much. Work hard and take initiative.

New to this, I would recommend remembering the above points as it would help you build the self-confidence. If I could do it, you certainly can too! Thank you @FONK!