Roto Prototypes a New Multidisciplinary Summer 2021 Internship Program to Support our Diverse Project Work

Congratulations to our amazing Roto summer interns!

Proud of all of you for reaching the midway point of our expanding 13-week internship program.

Meet Our Interns:

This summer’s interns bring together a diverse array of academic and professional passions that immediately add value to our culture and practice.

Plus, they’re just great people!

(L-R) Chesley Hathman, Lauren Robinson, Izzy Brown, Amanda Albertelli, Jillian Shive.

Not pictured: Lydia Wisne.

Jillian Shive – focusing on Roto’s design process --- comes to us from Ohio University where she studies interior architecture and plays D1 field hockey.

Izzy Brown – focused on Roto’s design process – is a student at The Ohio State University with a focus on industrial design and engineering.

Chelsey Hathman – focused on Roto’s engineering and design processes – is a professional mechanical engineer joining us virtually from her home in Dallas, TX during a mid-career shift out of aerospace.

Lauren Robinson – focusing on Roto’s financial practices – is studying both dance and accounting at Case Western Reserve University.

Lydia Wisne – focusing on Roto’s content research – is an anthropology major at The Ohio State University.

Amanda Albertelli – focusing on Roto’s business development and marketing – studies operations management and global business at The Ohio State University.

Beyond their specialties, we respect their collaborative style. We respect their natural empathy and unbridled curiosity. And we adore their ability to dive head-first into the dynamic world of Roto’s work.

What an inspiring group to work alongside as we “build genuine human connections” across our diverse markets and project types.

Prototyping Roto’s Expanding Internship Program:

While interns have always been part of Roto’s studio since our firm’s founding, Summer 2021 provided us a chance to prototype a new multi-disciplinary internship program to support our diverse project work.

That means we’ve been able to significantly increase the number of interns. It also means we’ve been able to expand the range of disciplines they represent and explore. Additionally, it gives us an opportunity to really re-imagine what an internship can and should make possible.

Whether participating in client meetings, developing critical project deliverables, meeting privately with the CEO of COSI, developing a strategic vision for a future Roto-owned visitor platform, helping us engage outside partnerships, or helping us challenge assumptions about a project’s potential, our interns are becoming true partners in expanding the possibilities of our firm.

And we’re just getting started.

Our team’s vision is to develop a creative human-centered internship program which fully embodies the future of ‘visitor experiences’ across different domains.

To do so, we’re actively testing Six Essential Questions this summer (and this upcoming school year):

Goal 1: How might a collective ‘intern studio’ support practice studios and projects while creating targeted experiences for each intern’s individual development?

Goal 2: How might the firm’s practice leaders provide targeted professional development to help interns improve “genuine human connections” in the built environment across projects?

Goal 3: How might this program expand the impact of our industry-leading Evaluations program to test prototypes in collaboration with students, teachers, parents, and community members?

Goal 4: How might intern teams prototype entrepreneurial innovations through collaborative design challenges which increase Roto’s future impact on the community-at-large?

Goal 5: How might we establish opportunities for interns to meet with leaders across cultural institutions in Columbus (and beyond) to better understand the future of ‘visitor experience’?

Goal 6: How might the internship program become a creative platform for expanding thought leadership and innovations within the firm?

These questions actively support Roto’s collective goal to “build genuine human connections” in all our client work as well as the way we recruit and develop talent across our practice in the future.

Reflections about the Internship:

Given the importance of “building genuine human connections” across our company’s projects and internal culture, we are always interested in our how interns are growing as people and teammates.

Each week they meet together to share insights and lessons. They ask questions, analyze feedback from design challenges, prep for cultural institution site visits, and discuss future tasks. In many ways, it’s often the heart of their experience.

Here’s a snapshot of how they describe their discoveries, their growth and Roto’s work so far:

Learning to Be an Intern + Learning about Myself in the Process:

[My mentor] has been great in helping me navigate my first few weeks. Now I feel like I have a healthy workflow that I can manage. – Jillian

I’m learning what I value in a workplace (creativity, curiosity, collaboration), and where my strengths (organized and articulate) and weaknesses (overcoming challenges with research) are. – Lydia

This is my first remote work experience and I am enjoying it. I feel like the Roto team is putting effort into making sure I am feeling engaged and supported. I feel like I am starting to find my flow in the workload and team interactions. The weeks are going quickly, but I’m surprised by how things seem to already be in flow. I feel really solidified as part of the team with a wider network of Rotos to collaborate with. – Chelsey

I think it’s helped me get the hang of working with people both my age and those who are more experienced. I’m definitely finding that I can still have fun yet be professional. – Izzy

Be prepared and comfortable in not knowing what is going on all the time! I’m also learning that you don’t need to be scared to ask exactly what is going on because sometimes other people don’t know yet either. – Jillian

I’ve found the other interns helpful because of their widely different backgrounds, goals, and skills. – Lydia

Roto’s culture has been amazing since the beginning, so the fear of not being good or smart enough went away pretty quickly. Everyone at Roto is so welcoming and seems to have an open-door policy, so I feel very able to access other mentors and colleagues. – Lauren

Being vulnerable has served me well these past weeks. I used to try to push through, fake it until I made it, in the past. This time around I’m learning to speak up and express concerns. Every time I’ve shared my desire to improve, I’ve been met with empathy and helpful tools. This is a lesson that will serve me in all my life goals. – Chelsey

Right now, I think I’m still in learning phase, I understand my tasks well and I’m settling into a routine. It helps to remember my impact and why I’m doing what I’m doing so I can have a renewed motivation in what I do and what I observe in the workplace. I believe (and hope) that the experiences and skills I’m picking up during this internship will be extremely relevant and helpful in the future of my studies/work. – Lydia

One piece of advice that I wish I could have told myself on day one is to just not be afraid or think that you won’t be good enough or smart enough, because I am here to learn and collaborate and the work that I am doing matters. – Lauren

I am surprised about the way my thinking has been impacted since I started just a few weeks ago. In the past, I thought of things as very black/white, but now I am beginning to view things from a different perspective that can have tons of answers or no answer at all. – Amanda

Learning Roto’s Vision + Methodologies:

“Roto’s focus is on the client first. A designer's goal is to design something for others to enjoy, so if we don’t do the work to understand our client and the end users, then we will not be successful. We create a strong, genuine connection with them to better understand their wants and needs. We really empathize with who the visitor is, putting ourselves in their shoes as best as we can. – Jillian

Roto's task is to illicit genuine human connections across as many groups as possible. That’s no easy feat. But with empathy and open ears, we get pretty close. I feel like our goal is to continue to hone in on the visitor experience to understand when things work and don’t work. It’s about fostering vulnerability and curiosity. This is how we can improve our stride towards genuine human connection. – Chelsey

Roto obviously makes stuff that allows humans to connect with an exhibit or an activity, but I think it’s worth it to really think about what other things Roto is helping humans connect to: other humans, something in the world around them, or even animals! – Izzy

I think of genuine human connections in the context of Roto’s focus on empathy, to allow families and friends exploring museums, or playing together in the New York playhouses, or working together to solve a science puzzle, connect and learn from each other. Working for Roto creates a community where we respect, learn from, collaborate, and help each other, so Roto’s culture internally builds genuine connections. – Lauren

I think there’s genuine human connection both inside the workplace and in the work we do. Roto is inherently collaborative. That breeds connection beyond what other workplaces may have. – Lydia

Everything here captures my attention! I am specifically interested in understanding how concepts are developed, the brain-storming creative aspect of a project, and who is a part of the concept phase. – Amanda

Another insight I’ve had is related to the way Roto’s team collaboration and the technology we use comes together. It’s a really delicate balance. So interesting to see the types of workflows everyone has and how it all merges together to make something great. – Izzy

Curious to Learn More about Being a Roto Intern? Then Let’s Talk:

It’s hard to believe that Summer 2021’s 13-week program is already half-way done.

Yet, with more site visit conversations with cultural institution leaders, a team design project to complete, and much more client-facing work still ahead, we’re also just getting started.

And we’re also thinking ahead to the Summer of 2022!

If you know of any college students – or are one yourself -- who would be interested in talking to us about future internship opportunities, then please let us know.

As an interdisciplinary creative design agency offering planning, experience design, immersive media, interactive engineering, and custom fabrication for museums, brands, attractions and architectural placemaking, we are always looking for curiosity-filled young people and beginning professionals.

Even more: we are looking for multi-disciplinary thinkers and doers who want to “build genuine human connections”.

Note: While our formal application process won’t begin until the spring, we’re always curious what makes you curious. And what you’d like to contribute and learn.

So let’s talk.

Summer 2021 Roto Interns at COSI in Columbus, Ohio
Roto Summer 2021 Internship