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Learning the Spark way – Exploring the path

I started my journey as a Prototype Trainee at Spark Works without knowing what I was getting myself into – Indeed, I had my thoughts, imaginations and expectations, but it was definitely incomparable to any of my previous experiences. Even Google did not have a definition of what a Prototype Trainee is!

Change is among the few constants in a Prototype Trainee’s life

What was designed as a highly adaptive and iterative journey from the beginning, proved to go beyond my imagination and understanding of agility and flexibility. The Spark engine always performs at its maximum speed –the dynamic, ambitious and collaborative spirit constantly fosters new ideas, actions for change and motivations for improvements, which results in a never-changing environment. Thus, my path had to be adapted and revised continuously, what seemed right one day was no longer applicable the next day –a journey full of detours and shortcuts. Following the motto: Plans are here to be changed.  

Caught in the trap - “The paradox of choice”

I was given endless opportunities to learn, improve and develop my skills and knowledge with almost no limitations in terms of format, location or content. As long as it brings an added value to Spark Works and myself – it classifies as a possibility. Although I was blessed with these development opportunities, it also required to make firm choices. Definitely a luxury problem to have – but at the same time it was also threatening and frustrating at times. I have spent countless hours looking for online courses, in-person trainings, reading material and podcasts to support my learning journey, analysing the value-effort ratio of each option in order to maximise my learning curve. Instead of finding the perfect fit, my level of frustration and indecisiveness was increasing and I often came to the point where I had postponed my decision to another day.

Once I realised - better late than never - that not deciding was also a decision, my self-disappointment and fear peaked. Doubting whether I have chosen the most optimal track, wondering if I have learned enough or if I was making the best out of my traineeship were some of my many concerns. Letting go of the unrealistic expectation of perfection was a tough but very important lesson I have learned – it still gives me some goose bumps thinking about it. 

I am definitely a person who enjoys learning by getting deeply involved in a project 

Having the choice of attending an online-course or diving straight into a project to deepen my knowledge – I don’t have to think twice, the latter it is. Learning by experience is definitely my way forward.Assessing and acquiring the needed skills and knowledge to complete a task, applying it immediately and brooding over a problem for hours is my preferred way to develop in-depth knowledge. Certain aspects, however, you must learn by heart – which I am still struggling with, but I will need to bite the bullet in the forthcoming months.

Getting and gaining, earning and learning

Focusing on the moment and the path ahead sometimes makes me forget how far I have come, how much experience I have gained and how muchI’ve grown in the past months. This intense, challenging and instructive time went by in the blink of an eye.

I was given the most incredible and exceptional learning opportunity - taking part in a tangible end-to-end design thinking project as a researcher, which exceeded my expectation in every aspect. I conducted interviews abroad, analysed data, identified patterns and opportunity spaces, brainstormed creative solutions and performed a virtual user testing.

Learning by experience is not a walk in the park. For example, my first interview: time and date were scheduled, the guideline was prepared, I took a pen and a notebook with me and off I went. Highly focused, I carefully listened to every word the interviewee said, took notes like crazy, let him speak without interrupting and suddenly the time was up. I looked at the interview guideline and realised that we got carried away. Each interview was its own learning, what worked with one interview partner was not necessarily applicable for the next. The experience is what makes you great and there is always more to learn.

What will define the forthcoming weeks: Less turbulence, more steadiness…?

I’d be naïve to believe that this will be the case, but the Spark environment is always good for a surprise. What’s coming is not unknown but definitely uncertain and things will change unexpectedly – these characteristics are exactly what drives and motivates me these days. With this in mind, I can’t wait to discover my next chapter on this journey.

Céline Heim
Business Associate
After gaining valuable work experience in today’s dynamic Banking and Wealth Management business Céline now applies her customer-centric thinking to support Spark Works in the planning and execution of research projects. Céline holds a B.Sc. in Business Administration from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Northwestern Switzerland.
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