SpotLITE: Cinythia Balanos and Madisonne Cooper

Cinythia Balanos and Madisonne Cooper are two Innovation Fellows that consistently amaze us with all that they have accomplished. Cinythia is a rising sophomore at Rhodes College. She was introduced to LITE through BRIDGES where she launched Juntos, a Latino advocacy campaign that resulted in a blog and a drive to get more books for Latino elementary schools. Madisonne is a rising sophomore at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff who was introduced to LITE through being a student at PCA. Her program was called Dare2Dance, a dance showcase that leads to raising awareness about building a dance studio. Both Cinythia and Madisonne spent their time interning at Regional One Health Innovation Center, a branch of Regional One that aims to spread a sense of innovation throughout the hospital, and they let me in on just how revolutionary this experience was.

Where are you interning this summer and what do you do?

M: We are interning at Regional One Health Innovation Center. We are currently helping organize the Shark Tank, which is the idea contest. We have helped host morning huddles informing employees of the role of the innovation center and encouraging them to participate in the Shark Tank. We sit in on meetings with various departments dealing with the Shark Tank ideas. We are also helping develop an innovation playbook. We have created info graphics and power points that will either be used around the hospital or will go up on the website. Mostly, we are helping expand the knowledge of innovation and more specifically Regional One's innovation center.

What is a typical day like at Regional One?

C: So we come in at around 8:00 in the morning and the first thing we do is touch base with our supervisors named Scott Vogel. We just discuss our projects for the day and every single day before we leave at around 12:50, because it’s 8:00-1:00, so every single day around 12:50, me and Maddie get together and come up with a list of things to do for the next day and we kinda set time limits for ourselves. So we have that written on a white board and we just kinda go from there everyday. Some days it’s just research. For the past few days we’ve been researching various innovation centers around the country and we’re working on something like a playbook for innovation and like I said there is only one person working at the center right now so we want to have something where we can just hand to people and they can kinda start learning on their own. So it’s kinda like a how to guide and we’ve been researching for that and writing it

How is this experience different from a typical college students job and how is it different from prior work experience?

C: It’s actually really funny you asked that because I have another job, I work at Charlotte Russe. I’m a manager there and I’ve been in retail management for almost two years now so it’s a really different setting because you have all of these things to do on top of customers, on top of having your district manager and you have all of these upper management people pressuring you and here we have to be very self-motivated. Our boss doesn’t micromanage us which is amazing and that kinda gives us the chance to organize things on our own and work at our pace. I say it’s different from the typical college student job because we’re actually right at the center of it, you know? We’re actually working. Of course, we do transcribe random things and put stuff in folders and organize stuff but we also get to sit in on meetings and we get to talk to different people who are innovating throughout the city. I know about a week ago we got to talk to some people from the Zeroto510 and they came to the hospital and kinda talked to us it was just really interesting to be exposed to that.

M: It is very laid back. It is a very quiet setting. I work around a lot of people who are behind the scenes, so it is a very professional setting. Everything is business.

How is the environment at Regional One?

C: So there’s a lot of work to do like I said there’s only one person working on this before so when me and Maddie came in there were a ton of projects to do so I’d say we’re always busy. There’s always something to do but it’s not overly stressful. Our office is connected to our supervisor's office  so we can always just pop our heads in and just be like ‘hey can you help us with this’ ‘hey we have this question.’ But yeah it’s not stressful but there’s definitely something to so

What were your initial thoughts about your internship?

M: I initially didn't think I would be doing as much work or learning a lot. However, I completely underestimated everything. I have learned so much from this internship, and I will be able to use everything that I learned throughout life.

C: My initial thoughts were really different from what I originally thought just because, and this is just common for anyone, you hear the word ‘innovation’ and I instantly thought ‘I’m not creative enough to  work with that’ ‘I don’t know what my job is going to be.’ It was all very vague until we got there and saw that, yes it’s vague because we have so much to do and it’s so new so in that sense it’s different. I also thought that I’d have to interact with people more.

How do you feel about not interacting with a lot of people?

C: I feel like right now it’s best that we’re working behind the scene just so we can get everything together because we spend about a week just reading articles on articles about innovation so with us just entering into it  I think it was better for us to be behind the scenes.

What do you think makes your internship unique?

M: Innovation is a unique topic itself. You can apply it anywhere and in any industry. Not many young people know about innovation, especially in Memphis. My internship encourages young people, like myself, to be more innovative. I don't have to build a new piece of technology to be innovative. I can start innovative thinking, or I can change a process based on innovation. There is no specific major assigned to innovation, and I absolutely love that.

How do you feel the things that you have learned through this experience will help you later on in life?

C: It kinda forced me to be a little more creative and think outside of the box. A lot of the ideas that we talk about implementing in the hospital are things that are already being done but in different fields so maybe they’re doing this is hospitality but they’ve never tried it in a hospital so being able to talk that  in a different setting is something that I think is going to be very transferrable to other jobs.

M: Failure is necessary for success. Innovation has taught me that it is okay to take risks. We learn from our mistakes, and that is one necessary life lesson that I think just about everyone has learned.

If you could describe this experience in one word, what would it be and why?

C: I don’t know it was just very eye-opening to see how you can take people who are right there who have never really been innovators. They aren’t engineers. They’re not Steve Jobs. They’re just security guards that have an idea to make everyone’s job easier or process easier and I think I’ve never really thought of innovation in that sense to where a regular person can do it. It was just very eye opening.

M: Opportunity. This internship was a door of opportunity for me. I opened this door, not knowing what was behind it. I stepped into something that I did not recognize and became comfortable with and took away some very valuable lessons. I hope I spend the rest of my life opening doors and stepping into something new.