Remember it is okay to take a step back and breathe

Whenever I have an idea, my plan of action is always to go full speed ahead. But mind you, I would always come up with a plan first although that doesn’t stop me from getting ahead of myself. My original plan for my Stretch was to create a working prototype of the app that my forum had presented as our Vodcast. This meant there would be multiple components to my stretch that would involve several different stakeholders. But after a discussion with my account manager we decided to take a step back and focus on researching into the marketplace and digging into it.

My independent project had a couple of hiccups along the way and it made me realize that sometimes things don’t go the way you want or expect them to. The two biggest things I’ve realized were:

  1. I know very little
  2. Sometimes life happens

Going into this project I was quite certain that it was a great idea and I couldn’t understand why no one else has come up with the idea before. For outsider readers who don’t know, our forum had created a web/app called “Food for Me” to allow individuals to search food places to eat on campus based on their dietary preference. However as I searched up similar resources like DineSafe, Honeycomb, Biteappy, Yelp, and TripAdvisor, I started to see why an idea like “Food for Me” was difficult to sustain. I downloaded the apps and used them for my own dining experience and compared them with each other. But another important thing I didn’t consider is that I am an individual who does not have a dietary restriction. Therefore I found myself spending more time reading about users who have dietary needs. In order to have a more concrete idea, I organized interviews and focus group discussions. It was another process to learn about how to conduct focus groups and how such data is analyzed. There was so much I didn’t know and so much more to learn.

In June I had a family emergency, which limited the time I had to myself, and it changed the plans I had for my stretch. Originally I had planned to go out of town for a startup conference however I was unable to take time away due to my family responsibilities therefore I had to make a couple of tweaks in my plans! It allowed me to allocate more time into interviews and research to create value propositions that cater to the needs of individuals who would utilize the app. Reflective journaling made me realize assumptions and habits I didn’t know I had. To find such habits that are not so great, which was discouraging at first but thankful to know things I can improve on.

While I got to investigate the needs of individuals who face dietary restrictions, my stretch became a valuable experience in a way I didn’t expect it to. It was unlearning about my own ideas and being open about allowing those opportunities to take place was a valuable experience for me. I really appreciated the reflections I’ve made throughout this summer because it taught me to take a step back and breathe.

I hope my fellow peers have had a enriching summer experience as I have and I cannot wait to hear about them.

Warmest regards,

Karen Shin

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