I participated in a two-day shadow with Moira Tofanelli, a school psychologist at two different public schools in Portland. As an art major completing a thesis that draws heavily from the field of psychology, I was excited to see where a career in psychology could take me in Portland. I will be graduating in May and I am thinking about what kind of job I would like in the near future, and teaching seems to be an obvious next step for me. It was a great exercise for me to think about what kind of school I want to be a part of and see how the public schools in Portland vary.
It was interesting for me to compare the two schools I visited, as they were very different in terms of philosophy and educational goals. In the developmental psychology class I am taking this spring, we have been focusing on different models of human development and the kinds of guidance and parenting strategies that support each model. The first school I visited, the Creative Science School, uses a constructivist educational perspective. Jean Piaget, a psychologist influential in the 1970s, is the best-known proponent of this philosophy. Constructivism values learning through experience and independent problem solving. In general, Piaget viewed child development as a series of stages, and children as tiny scientists who learn about their world through experimentation and add new information to existing mental schemas. In the classroom, a constructivist approach often manifests as lots of group work, experiential projects, and integration of different classroom subjects.
To me, Creative Science seems big and colorful and full of movement and the evidence of children. There are art projects all over the hallway walls, glitter-covered handprints, and photographs of the students. I had forgotten what it is like to be in an elementary school. Everything is kid sized and chaotic in the way things are when tiny humans spend six hours a day in an enclosed space.
I headed to Seattle on Saturday the 9th to rendezvous with my host, former classmate, and Shadow contact person, Christina Gremore ’14. Christina had not only made the Shadow possible by petitioning her former boss, but also offered up her apartment for two lucky Reedies to stay for the duration of the Shadow. I was doubly lucky as an old classmate of hers, since she invited me to arrive two days early in order to have dinner and catch up with her before her business trip to Austin. Though we would only reunite for those few hours for the duration of the Shadow, I was reminded exactly how lucky I am to know her. I can only hope that one day in the near future, I will be just as accomplished as Christina in my personal and professional life.
Christina had arranged for us Reedies to Shadow her old department and thereby develop an understanding of the demands and growth potential at an entry-level job. Andrew Barker, Christina’s former boss and a manager in the Product Consulting department, graciously took the three of us Reedies under his wing for the entirety of our time at Tableau. Coming into the Shadow, I honestly didn’t expect too much from the experience. I already knew that I liked the product and believed in the company’s mission, so I was skeptical that I would learn much more from the experience. Andrew and the rest of the employees at Tableau quickly made me eat my words. Throughout my time at Tableau, I was blown away by the generosity, hospitality, and candor of the employees. It was one thing to have done my research on the company and another to be able to speak to people working there about their own career journeys. Andrew and the other employees were happy to talk about their time at Tableau and their experiences transitioning into gainful (or more satisfying) employment.
For the first day of the Shadow we received a general overview of Tableau as a company. Andrew talked about Tableau’s beginnings, its organizational structure, and gave us a tour of the Seattle campus after providing lunch. I found the tour to be one of the highlights of the Shadow since we got to learn more about how the different departments (and the people within them) work together. Taking the American Capitalism Sociology class has really impressed upon me the importance of organizational structures for employee satisfaction, so I was pleased to hear that Tableau is conscious of the potential perils of transitioning from a national business to a global corporation.
Maybe because I’m a Reedie, getting an education at a college that tucks grades out of sight and celebrates the weird and wonky types of intelligence that stick out at awkward angles from standard boxes. Perhaps because, as my mom says, I was raised in a hippy era when testing kids was “uncool.” For whatever reason, I admit I entered into my weeklong shadow with Dr. Amy Summers, a private psychologist who specializes in administering tests to kids to gather information about cognitive development, IQ, and possible learning disabilities, with a bit of a bias. The bias wasn’t even due to an issue of ethics, I think I just heard words like “testing” and “assessment” and “diagnosis,” and thought these translated to numbers, objectivity, and standardization. In all honesty, I thought the work would be a little boring. I was beyond wrong!
I simply did not know enough about psychological testing to realize how interesting, exciting, and nuanced it really is. I’m so grateful to this externship and everyone who made it possible. One week with Amy opened my eyes to some really cool aspects of psychology that I never knew existed, and inspired in me a real fascination with the process of psychological diagnosis.
Amy let myself and my fellow Reed student shadower Jocelyn Hansson follow her through every step of the process of assessing a 5th grader suspected of having ADHD or ADD. Amy works predominantly with young children, mostly to administer IQ tests to kids whose parents are hoping they qualify for a highly capable school or program, or to test for a learning disorder/ADD/ADHD.
I decided to do the winter shadow program because while I’ve been certain that I’d be a psychology major for a long time, I have been struggling to figure out what specific area in psychology I want to pursue. When I saw Amy Summer’s winter shadow program I knew I had to apply. Amy Summers Phd., is an educational psychologist who administers psychological tests to children. She administers IQ tests to children hoping to apply to highly capable school programs and tests to children suspected to have a learning disorder or attentional problems. I already had an interest in learning disabilities and ADHD, but I was interested in exploring and learning more about the various different job opportunities within this field. Over the course of my week shadowing Amy, my externship buddy Maddy and I learned about the responsibilities of an educational psychologist. We were also introduced to others in the same field, and the different kinds of educational backgrounds they had. We learned about learning disorders, ADHD, child IQ scores, and the tests that score them while also observing and even sometimes getting the opportunity to administer some of these tests.
Perhaps the most exciting parts of my externship experience involved administering tests to the young children. Maddy and I were given the opportunity to prepare and administer tests to the two 4 year olds who were receiving IQ tests (these tests were non-essential, so we couldn’t mess up the results of the testing). It was sort of crazy to see how IQ is tested in 4 year old children. Some of the tests made sense to me, such as the test that looked at processing speed, but others were more unusual. For example, a block design test had the children arrange colored blocks to match a simple pattern. It was weird to hear that an ability to understand and reproduce diagonal lines is considered to be advanced spatial-visual ability in 4 year olds. These were super sweet and intelligent kids, but it was a shock to see kids this young being exposed to a convoluted testing process with the goal of getting them into a high achieving school or kindergarten. I was glad Amy was more than happy to talk about my conflicting feelings about the schools, and she ended up giving me a lot to think about. We talked about things like the instability of young children’s IQ scores, the status element of having one’s children attend these schools, along with the effects of the different schooling children from high and low socioeconomic status receive.
During the week Amy also assessed an 8 year old who was being tested because of a suspected learning disorder. Maddy and I spent a day observing him in his school environment. While we were there we were able to talk to people worked in jobs different than Amy’s that were in the same realm of interest. I learned not only about jobs related to educational psychology, but also about some interesting methods geared to teach children with significant learning disabilities to read. When this boy came into Amy’s office, we were able to both observe his testing, and administer some tests ourselves. I came into this experience thinking I knew a lot about learning disorders and ADHD, but found that I actually knew very little about the tests for these disorders. One of the most interesting things I learned about these tests was the fact that there are different spelling errors that indicate different kinds of problems. Simply put, some spelling errors make phonological sense, and don't indicate much, while others might be indicative of difficulties understanding sounds and their corresponding letters. I think the most rewarding experience of my whole shadow program was looking critically at this boy’s performance on the tests. It was cool to see Amy look at certain test results, come up with a hypothesis, and administer certain tests to look into her hypothesis. We were treating this boy’s development and abilities sort of like a puzzle. I’m glad I was comfortable enough to put forward my own ideas and hypotheses about this boy.
When I first considered doing a Shadow, I was studying abroad in Buenos Aires. A great many things happened to me during that semester, and just about as many questions, too, about where I’m going to be and what I want to do after Reed. Wondering how I was supposed to utilize and mold my Reed experience into something conducive to my future. Even the answer to what sort of field I wanted to go into was up in the air. These questions have only become more dire as I have been embarking on the last half of my undergraduate phase. So upon hearing about the opportunity Reed was offering students to shadow Reed alumni, I thought, what better way to help me examine this dilemma.
I didn’t know what kind of shadow I was looking for, besides looking for one where the person I would be shadowing could advise me on how to navigate the murky and amorphous decisions that I would soon have to make.
I had always thought of a career in teaching as an option; sometimes as my one an only option, and at other times as a backup should I never find anything better. As it were, at this point the playing field was level for all possible careers. I just wanted to know what careers were available and how one gets there. How do careers happen? For surely they are not always dependent on the linear development of one’s schooling, from grade school and higher education. Clearly, my problem was a simple lack of exposure to the realties of a career beyond the fanciful notions of stability and mundane complacency.
This winter, I spent four days at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts in Richmond, California. I shadowed Jordan Simmons (Reed ’78), but I also had opportunities to work independently, with other interns, and with various members of the faculty and staff.
The Center, which includes a theater, a dance studio, practice and rehearsal rooms, and office spaces, is housed in a beautiful renovated building. When I arrived, Ruthie, the Deputy Director of Programs, took me around the Center, introducing me to everyone we ran into. She told me what they did at the center, professionally, but she also alerted me to other details, such as: one employee made great cheesecake and another was passionate about sneakers. Everyone had an amazing set of combined skills or passions. Ruthie herself, I learned, had degrees in both social work and jazz piano, and this kind of combination was not unusual among the staff.
Founded in 1968, the Center offers on-site classes, in school and after school programs for students in the Richmond area, ensembles, performances, college and career counseling, and internships. When I visited, the Center was in a “dark week,” or a period with private lessons and rehearsals but no regular classes. Even so, sometimes I would walk downstairs and come upon a student in a piano lesson. One afternoon, the sounds of an alumni band floated up from a first floor rehearsal room to the offices upstairs. Usually, the Center offers lessons in everything from violin to West African Dance, acting to oboe, plus jazz theory, capoeira, Mien/Laotian ceremonial dance, stage combat, ballet, and more.
This winter, I spent a week working with Arun, Ranjan, two other Reed externs, and one Lafayette extern. Working from 3 continents, 4 time zones, and 5 cities, we met each morning (PT) by video call to try to build a web application through our collected efforts.
Arun and Ranjan are about 6 months into their startup, Gloopen Inc., which is an extremely versatile communication platform. Their guidance helped us simulate a startup experience.
Shula and Caleb working the sound board in the Control Room
Upon my return to Reed at the start of this semester, I met up with a friend of mine who had just returned from studying abroad. Amidst the excitement of being in the same country again and the desire to know as much as I could about all that she had experienced, I naïvely asked her, “How was it?”
“I could never describe everything that happened accurately,” she responded, “so much took place during my time away that it would takes at least as long for me to relate it all to you.”
Having just left my winter shadow with Shula Neuman and the newsroom at Saint Louis Public Radio, this answer resonated with me. It described exactly what I had felt. Because in the three all-too-short weeks I spent at the station, the team there exceeded every expectation I could have brought with me. But how can I adequately encapsulate that in a short blog post? How can I do justice to every minute of every day, whether I spent it hopping around press conferences with Missouri’s governor, performing investigative journalism about the merits of Stan Kroenke’s proposal to move the Rams back to Los Angeles, or producing interviews with some of the most determined advocates for progress in race relations I have ever met?
Ziyuan Zhong shadowed at Tableau, a software company that helps people visualize, analyze, and share their data.
I went to Seattle on January 10 for my winter shadow, which spanned from Monday to Thursday. This shadow was probably one of the best experiences of my life. I learned how to use Tableau, how to give a presentation using Tableau and data analysis skills, and how to solve real-world problems using what I had learned at Reed.
This shadow consisted of three main parts. First, we shadowed customer technical sales calls. By listening to the conversation between the workers and the customers, I realized the importance of good communication between people, in addition to having mastery of the technical details. This motivates me to grasp every opportunity in the rest of my academic life at Reed, and to practice my oral skills and communication skills.
The setup for our tasting experiment
I had not, in my life, expected to be able to point at a bottle of salad dressing at Safeway and say, “Oh cool, I made that.”
(‘Helped make that’ is definitely more proper, but sometimes you’ve just got to flex in the grocery store.)
Applying to CCD Innovation to understand the world of food innovation seemed, in my head, to suppose a certain scientific environment: one comprised of vast numbers of tiny bottles filled with hyper-concentrated-who-knows-what in ultra-sterile laboratories, logbooks filled to the brim with the anguish of hundreds of statisticians in the pursuit of ultimate flavor, and a grim, if regulated, corporate environment with masters of the tastebud denoting the desires of the mass public to lesser, flavoring-affiliated chemists.
For my Winter Shadow, I stayed with Ruth Werner and her family. Ruth works from home where she juggles various projects related to her role as an author, artist, and educator, specializing in pathology and massage therapy. I had the fortune of getting to know her and her family, while getting some insight into publishing. Unfortunately, due to some health related concerns I was unable to engage with the opportunity as fully as I would have liked.
I did, nonetheless, have a rewarding experience. Speaking to Ruth about the intricacies of her work helped me realize the various approaches one can have into the field of education, despite my previous misconceptions of its limits. Seeing the way that she interacted with the field and others in it showed me how I might incorporate my own interests, skills, and passions into my educational pursuits without having to sacrifice different aspects of my identity. For example, Ruth talked about how she majored in theater at Reed but that her time here “made it clear I [Ruth] could go into any direction I wanted” stating that she “never felt constrained to follow any particular path” because she was supported by Reed to study anything that made me passionate and to trust that that would work out. And despite theater belonging to an entirely, seemingly disparate realm, she believes that her practice in the area helped her develop skills that were transferable to her role as an educator. Together we spoke at length about the importance and marketability of effective communication, which gave me confidence about moving forward into the world of publishing.
Ruth and I also talked about the significance of having vision, of being imaginative, problem solving, and being open to failure. She gave me some very valuable advice about pursuing publishing, which I’d like to share for others who might be pursuing it as well:
When the Reed library decided not to hire me my sophomore year I moved on to other things and contented myself with straightening books (to preserve their spines!) and relocating the occasional mis-shelved loner (so people can find it!) both at Reed and all my favorite public libraries. I'd briefly considered going for a library science degree, but that seemed like a big investment when all I really knew was that I Love Books and Libraries Have Books. So when I saw the posting for Winter Shadow at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine I knew I wanted to get it. While ideally I'd have tried a shadow before my senior year, better late than never right? Part of the description for the OCOM internship was also that they needed help cataloging a large donation of Chinese-language books--a dream come true for a linguistics major with a focus on Chinese!
After being accepted to help out at the library I began to see more of the behind the scenes work I'd been curious about. Veronica Vichit-Vadakan patiently trained me in all the ways of inter-library loans and the particular system OCOM uses, giving me a very every-day look at how a small library runs. OCOM is also unique in that it has a medicinal herb library for students to work with--something that makes sense for the school but that you probably wont find in a larger public library. These kinds of details are now helping me think about what kind of library I'd want to work at, and what kind of degree I'd then want to focus on. Public libraries sometimes have literacy programs or larger historical reference projects, while smaller libraries can have more focused resources and a more focused audience. The cataloging of Chinese language books is one of these more focused projects; unsurprisingly most of the books are about Traditional Chinese Medicine (I certainly picked up some new vocab). It was kind of wild typing a title into WorldCat and seeing that another library copy of the book I was holding was in Hong Kong! Even small libraries are part of this huge global thing. The conversion of older lectures recorded on VHS to DVD was another project happening while I was there. I realized libraries do a lot of work not only innovating new ways to access materials but also in making sure older resources don't get dusty and "left behind." To me this is really exciting--a combination of technology and curating abilities.
All in all, while re-shelving and scanning articles is not most people's idea of a good time, to me it's sort of satisfying. You run into things you wouldn't have looked up yourself. It's also just the most obvious work libraries do, there are larger issues like how libraries handle the increasing push for digital works, how libraries are also one of the few public places people can get together or use computers for free, how libraries can assist with life-long learning, or home schooled or virtual learning, and on and on. Taking the time, if only for a few days, to absorb the library atmosphere, talk about and research libraries, has made it clear to me it's a future I'd consider pursuing. Waiting to be hired in a library would have been a stressful alternative, so many thanks to Victoria and OCOM, and to Reed for organizing the Winter Shadows program.
In my first email conversation with Dr. Jeri Janowsky, my winter shadow sponsor, she sent me an article explaining how the education gap between high socioeconomic status (SES) children and low SES children grows in the summer time but stays constant during the school year (Beth M. Miller, 2007). The article explained that this phenomenon is largely a due to the fact that high SES students usually have the opportunity to enroll in enriching summer camps, while low SES students do not.
Saturday Academy aims to bridge this gap by offering classes on Saturdays and over the summer to students of all income levels. This January, I had the opportunity to work for Saturday Academy in Portland for two weeks. I was struck by the non-profit's dedication to a single mission: to level the playing field for all students. As a result, I learned the importance of having a strong mission for non-profits. During a staff meeting I attended while at Saturday Academy, Jeri continuously pushed her staff to share any news they had on their projects, but more importantly, to make sure they understood how everything they were doing fit into the overall mission of Saturday Academy.
Over the course of the two weeks I spent working and learning at Saturday Academy, I also learned how non-profits function successfully. The role of the non-profit is to collect, organize, and distribute the resources of the community in order to accomplish a specific goal. In the case of Saturday Academy, bettering the education of the community’s children. Saturday Academy collects grants and the expertise of community members who instruct their classes, organizes them and provides them with guidance, and then distributes them to the community by way of classes.
Kartini Clinic is a small health clinic in Northeast Portland that offers treatment for pediatric patients with eating disorders. Kartini’s approach to eating disorder treatment differs in many ways from that of other facilities. The clinic’s treatment program is family-based and places an emphasis on eating disorders as genetic metabolic disorders instead of psychiatric disorders. In the past year, Kartini Clinic has even implemented individualized genetic testing as a part of their treatment process.
Upon intake, Kartini Clinic patients, ranging in age from 6 to 23 years old, are placed in one of the clinic’s three stages of treatment: the partial hospitalization program, the intensive outpatient program, or the outpatient program. During my two weeks shadowing one of the clinic’s medical assistants, I was given the chance to observe all three levels of treatment. However, I primarily interacted with patients in the partial hospitalization program, taking vitals each morning and occasionally eating meals with them. I learned some incredibly useful skills over the course of those two weeks, including how to take blood pressure manually, how to analyze urine samples, and how to recognize abnormal levels in certain vital measurements.
During my time at Kartini Clinic, I also conducted research. I was responsible for collecting data on the initial diagnoses and intake medications of one hundred of the clinic’s most severe patients. This data will later be compared to the results of genetic testing for those patients. This genetic testing, conducted by a company called Genomind, gives the doctors at Kartini Clinic information about specific mutations that are commonly associated with negative reactions to certain psychoactive drugs. This type of information is invaluable to the doctors, as they often prescribe psychoactive drugs to combat the anxiety and depression that often accompany eating disorders. The goal of our research is to observe any correlations between the results from this genetic testing and the severity of the patient.
Walking down the shore of Lake Michigan right before I slipped on ice. Photo Credit: Shannon Bacheller, ‘16
I’m not one to travel. NYC had been my home for 18 years before I got accepted to Reed. Stasis breeds complacency and so I left my home. Moving to Portland would stir in me the sort of anxious energy that can be channeled productively. Even so, I wasn’t comfortable calling the place home until my last semester. I arrived with the dream of becoming a doctor. Having completed a synthetic chemistry thesis, I left more confused now than before as to what my true love was, be it medicine or chemistry. Being so infatuated with two things is a strange thing indeed.
Though I welcomed the short break, I was eager to ease my cognitive dissonance. My next destination was Chicago, IL, where I was to shadow Dr. Daniel Wynn (’77, Biology) at his private neurology practice in the suburbs. I left NYC once more in the hopes that a wiser soul than I, a clinical researcher and neurologist at a successful multiple sclerosis center, could aid my plight. Being in a foreign town would force me to explore.
Being a traveller grants one the comfort of knowing that, when overwhelmed by the novel, home is only a ways away. After my first visit at the clinic, it was obvious Dr. Wynn was a master of his craft. He charmed his patients, talked to them like they were old friends. His patients appreciated his wit (as did I), his genuine care, and above all, his patience; he treated his patients as equals. He took his time to explain all things in detail. He consulted with his patients on all matters and left all final decisions up to them. They worked as a team. They shared the ups and downs of their treatment, the good and bad stories, their wishes and worries.
Imagine you’re me. You’re 20 years old and you love DNA, but have very little on your resume to show for it, save a former lab tech job and a prayer that your future employer can detect your enthusiasm. You’re dragging a conspicuously neon suitcase down the street of a Parisian suburb following the signs to École Normale Supérieure de Cachan, a private University with a reputation for its scientific prestige. Not surprisingly, your three days of 1990s-era in-car-insta-French CDs have done nothing to prepare you for the conversation with the security guard explaining what you’re doing there. For the next two weeks, you’ll be having these conversations with everyone you meet by courtesy of the immediate observation that you are out of your element. Your comfort zone is 6667 km away, and you are really excited not to be in it.
For my Winter Shadow Internship, I was working under the supervision of Bianca Sclavi, a biophysicist in charge of the Bacteria Lab at ENS Cachan. Suffice it to say that my Winter Shadow experience was a learning opportunity, but also an experience of exposure on many counts.
LBPA is an interdisciplinary lab, so projects not only pass through the hands of biologists, but chemists, mathematicians, and physicists as well. In addition, Bianca often seeks the assistance of collaborators around the world from Minneapolis to Cambridge to other side of Paris. Coming from Reed, where the Bio Department and the Physics Department ironically feel miles away from one other, this was one of the first surprises about LBPA: how scientific inquiry in its raw form refused to stay in one place. With this in mind, as well as Bianca’s tendency to work on multiple things at once, it was often easiest to follow the development of individual experiments.
My Winter Shadow experience did not concern the cold, bright, often terrifying light of real-time social exposure in the offices and labs I’d always imagined as waystations placed along the glistening Career Track, places for making urgent connections. Instead, it was private, personal, almost confidential—indeed, my time spent with Edith Zdunich, a Portland-based freelance book editor, was very much about what happens in the shadows.
The editing Shadow had captured my interest partly because my understanding of the field was so vague. Sure, as an avid reader and writer with a confidence in her own grammatical accuracy, detail-oriented perfectionism, and literary taste, I had a hunch that being paid to polish manuscripts for publication would suit me. But my comprehension of the processes that brought a work from brainchild to print edition was virtually nil, and Internet searches supplied surprisingly little clarity. I knew what an editor’s job was, but I had no idea what editors actually did.
When I met with Edith, one of the first things I learned was this: neither do their clients.
For two weeks this winter, I shadowed Dr. Dan Michaels in the La Jolla Village Family Medical Group. As a student interested in pursuing medical school after Reed, I was thrilled for this opportunity. This experience exceeded my expectations and has left me more excited than ever for my future.
Every day of my shadow, I followed the day-to-day work of Dr. Michaels. This work included seeing patients, refilling prescriptions, following up with patients about test results, and dealing with pesky pharmaceutical representatives. As I had expected, the work life of a primary care physician was busy. In addition to annual exams, the patients we saw included people with sore throats, stomach pains, aching muscles, addiction concerns, and surgery follow ups. The variety was exciting and Dr. Michael’s grace leaping from case to case was impressive.
In each appointment, Dr. Michael’s would open the door and recite, “I have a student that would like to stand by. Is that alright with you?” With the exception of two patients, I was graciously welcomed as the patient appeared flattered to be considered an interesting case and eagerly allowed me to learn from their body. In these rooms, I was honored to be a part of these patients’ lives in even the smallest way, whether that meant offering a sympathetic glance as they shared their frustrations with weight loss, holding the hand of a brave patient going through a tough point in their health, or simply thanking the individual for trusting me with these details in their life.
On the night of January 10th, I stepped off a plane and arrived in New York. I had traveled across the country, and it was my first time traveling alone to somewhere that wasn’t Reed. It was dark and I was tired, but I was also nervous and excited for the start of my Big Apple Adventure.
Some months earlier, when I first found out that I had gotten this Shadow opportunity, I made a post on the Reed Switchboard, requesting a place to crash for a few days. Thankfully, Jon Steiner ‘93 responded and generously offered me a place to stay.
Me, 2nd from the left, with my host Chris McCraw, on my right, and the Support Ops team
Mustering up the will to get out of bed at 7 am on a rainy Monday in Portland is a lot easier if you have something to look forward to. I realize that 7 am isn’t early for some, but after two weeks of loafing around with my family, it was a bit of a rude awakening (pardon the pun). Each morning that week, the 99 bus shuffled me to the 6th and Yamhill, and from there I’d walk a few Portland-sized blocks to 2nd and Taylor.
At the corner of 2nd and Taylor is– you guessed it– Jama’s headquarters. The building owner has a penchant for old motorcycles, so the first-floor lobby sports four beautiful bikes (three Ducatis and a Norton, if memory serves). The second-floor lobby is no less eclectic, though that’s Jama’s doing. Anyone who visits the Jama office signs in with a living wall at their back and an inspirational mission statement on the wall to their right. A few of my favorite bits: “This is where we do our best work. It’s where we ask the tough questions and challenge the status quo… As an employee, partner, customer, or guest within our space, you are a member of Jama Nation… Let’s get to work.”
Jama Software focuses on one product, known as Jama. “Jama,” as it was put me by my externship host, “is a little bit of a Swiss army knife.” It’s often used by companies who have a lot of specifications, procedural oversight, or regulations to meet during the product development process. My externship host was Chris McCraw, team Lead for Support Ops. The Support Ops team, which served as a home base of sorts for me, manages any technical issues that might pop up on the customer side. They also maintain online a community where users can ask questions, read documentation, and learn how to make Jama work for them.