photo 3Hello from the Design for America Alumni Network!

Last week, we partnered with incubator + co-working space PARISOMA to host the first-ever Creators’ Exchange! DFA teams from UC Davis and UC Berkeley, along with alumni and professionals/mentors, congregated in the heart of San Francisco for a day of idea exchanging, collaboration, and conversation.

The weekend kicked off on a high note Friday night with a happy hour at Code for America‘s beautiful headquarters. Guests sipped and snacked while meeting new people and reuniting with old friends! Attendees tried their luck at a raffle, taking home prizes from Design for America, Koja Kitchen, and Back to the Roots.
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Saturday morning, professionals from Adobe, gravitytank, Inneract Project, and more arrived at PARISOMA to give feedback to student teams working on autism, disaster relief, creative confidence, food insecurity, and small agriculture. After a delicious breakfast by Noah’s Bagels, teams gave short presentations before getting the chance to talk one-on-one with professionals. Students received prototyping tips, leads on user access, and advice on next steps. Our DFA National friends Sami Nerenberg and Giselle Malina led everyone through a valuable workshop in interviewing after a lunch catered by Chipotle!


We had a facilitated panel discussion on “Finding Meaningful Work” that featured Dan Lynch of Brandcast, Danny Alexander and Mariana Prieto from IDEO.org, Joshua Kauffman of the Quantified Self, and Ashley Marsh from Cannon Design. Attendees listened to each panelist talk about their background and why meaningful work is so important to them as architects, designers, developers, and humans.

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At the end of the day, everyone gathered together to reflect on the day. Students said they appreciated the abundance of professionals/mentors, found the career-oriented panel discussion transformative, and enjoyed the balance between project-focused and career-based activities. Mentors and professionals said that they loved the open & inclusive environment that DFA fosters and that they were thrilled to find each student so receptive to feedback. Attendees took home gift bags with goodies from Autodesk and Makerbot, which included 3D-printed commemorative tokens to celebrate the event!

While the Alumni Network is still a work-in-progress, it’s safe to say that similar events will be taking place soon, hopefully near your DFA studio! DFA Alumni Hub – West Coast will be hosting a rapid prototyping workshop in collaboration with Autodesk in January, so stay tuned!

Questions? You can reach Amy here, or find her on Twitter @hanuiamychoi!