Teens Take on Product Design

by adowds

The following blog post is written by Teen Central’s Teen Tech Mentors, Khalid & Khalid, and the Teen Gaming Specialists, Ananda & Jorge, about their experience participating in the Product Design Workshop in The Lab.


Product design


On Monday, March 27th, the Teen TechMentors and Teen Gaming Specialists at Teen Central (Khalid, Khalid, Ananda, Jorge, & Jorge’s friend) participated in a program about product design, led by Ms. Jackson, a Senior Project Manager at Cantina, a digital design and development agency. Ms. Jackson told us that her job required her to be the head of any project whose main duty is to plan, organize, lead, and control the project efficiently and effectively. In the program, she had us manage what seemed to be a relatively easy project, a trip from Boston to Egypt, though throughout the program it became clear that such a project is not as simple as it seems. During the progra
m each one of us was given a stack of sticky notes and a sharpie, and we had to plan and place a note on the wall and suggest improvements on each step of the process, ranging from undressing at the airport’s security check to whether a translator should be hired.

During our program with Ms. Jackson, we thought of what we would need for a trip going from Boston to Egypt.  We wrote on sticky notes what we would need to bring or do before, during and after our trip. Also, after getting everyone’s ideas onto the inspiration wall, we began to place them into chronological order of how our trip would go.  Next, we began a discussion of logistics such as when we would get to the airport or how and through what agency we would book our tickets.  Finally, we began to reflect on our program by discussing what we’ve observed by planning the flight from beginning to end such as the tedious nature of travel and how these steps related to product management.


We all genuinely had fun during this program since we were able to express ourselves and give our honest opinions on the subject matter. We were given a “template scenario” in which we spoke on ideas for airport security. In the process, we wrote down on index cards what people do when traveling, taped them to a window, and put our ideas together on a whiteboard. The notes we took on travelers’ actions intertwined with our security subject, since patterns in their behavior and needs can lead to a resolution (since the current process is controversial). There were many things we learned and gained from this program. One of those things was the ability to understand how product designers work in their environment, and how they come up with so many fascinating ideas in the process. This just happened to be the main goal of this program, leaving an impression on us, which can be used for years to come if we involve ourselves in this field of work, or any other. Another example of a learning experience from this program could be the inclusion of the mini-seminar we had after our ideas were put together. In this part of the program, we all expressed our honest and in-depth ideas on how airport security can be let’s say… “tweaked” or “revised”. This helped me realize that the ideas we shared led to a moment where we realized that product design is actually an AWESOME subject. It is a perfect example of when great minds think alike, amazing things can happen, and when these morals are applied to the real world, nothing but good can come from it.


Our advice for any teen still looking for some inspiration – BECOME A DESIGNER! This program was one that really had me inspired to use my own creative ideas and put them out into the world, and that’s what we discussed during the program. I have no idea what other topics could be discussed in other cases but we discussed what we’d do in the scenario if we were taking a trip to Egypt and staying for a while. Long story short, we went through an extravagant sticky note process, which we later learned was how a group of designers would undergo the same situation. So you sticky note lovers, this career could be the icing to your cupcakes done neatly to your satisfaction. Anyhow, this program really helps express the creative process of new critical thinking skills, and observing the lifestyle of a designer! If there was anyone looking to release their creative juices and spray its mist across the world and take credit for it, this program starts you at the beginning of your yellow brick road.

If I were to do this program again, I’d like to know more about how one begins to become a designer. I, Ananda, am currently in the ninth grade and have absolutely no idea what I want to do with my life, however, this designer career seems very intriguing so where do I sign up? While I’m still in school, there are concerns about schooling. What do I need to major in during college? Are there any tips about college that should be shared with the youth as advice? I had these questions answered, and we were advised to have a typical college schooling and that technology, business, sociology, and advertisement are all ways to go. But there is one final question – can I have pink hair? Best question of all interviews, they might laugh, but I’m serious… haha.