Franklin High School – Blink Field Trip and Presentation

On December 6, girls from Franklin High School had the opportunity to travel downtown to the offices of Blink, a woman-founded and woman-owned technology company here in Seattle! Blink is a company that specializes in user experience research and design, helping clients such as Starbucks, Seattle Public Libraries, X-box, Domino’s Pizza (and much more!) make sure their customers have an easy and enjoyable interaction with the company or product. What a fabulous experience for Franklin girls!

The fun and success of the trip is largely owed to Karen Clark Cole, Founder and President of Blink. Karen invited IGNITE girls to tour the Blink office, and coordinated with her incredible group of female staff to ensure Franklin girls got to hear an array of inspiring stories. Karen is truly a model mentor for girls. She started Blink at the age of 32, loves what she does, and is eager to pass on her knowledge and insight to the next generation of girls! We cannot say enough thanks to you, Karen!

Students got to tour the Blink offices and learn all about how a successful woman-owned company runs. It was great to see the labs where Blink tests how easily (or not!) a participant interacts with a product. Karen explained that the labs can change from a living room set-up to an office, an operating room, a bathroom, and much more depending on what is being tested. The girls got to see the lab (this time designed like a living room) and all the cameras through which research participants are observed as they interact with a tablet, a toothbrush, a video game or something else entirely!

Big thanks go out to Julie O’Brien, a Math Teacher at Franklin and a wonderful IGNITE Teacher. Julie had a great response from Franklin girls for this field trip, as well as for other IGNITE opportunities. She works hard to make sure her students know about and take advantage of these opportunities to learn about STEM careers. Her students are lucky to have her, as are we!

We are so grateful to the women of Blink, who took the time on Thursday to speak with Franklin girls with incredible honesty and passion. Women from many different roles in the company spoke about their childhoods, teenage and college years, what had inspired them to work in technology and ultimately with Blink. It was fantastic to hear the diversity of stories, and soak in the wisdom of these amazing women. Thank you to Claire Carlson, an Interaction Designer, Heather Hunter, a Resource and Project Manager, Jennifer McLean Oliver, a User Experience Researcher, Karen Clark Cole, President and Founder, Nika Smith, a User Experience Researcher, and Cayla Ravancho, a Business Development Manager. We are so thankful to you all for the time and thoughtfulness you put into this experience for Franklin girls!

The presenters spoke about the importance of dreaming big, even if you don’t know all the details of that dream yet. They told girls of internships and scholarships to help them gain valuable education and work experience, and they spoke of the challenges they overcame to get where they are at Blink. One presenter was told by a teacher to just accept the fact that she would never be good at math or science. Another was among the first in her family to graduate high school, much less college, and still another spoke to her experience nearly failing out of college before getting herself back on track, a mistake she urged the girls not to make. The candor with which the women told their stories was amazing to be part of and, as you will see below, it had a measurable impact on Franklin students.

Here are the comments from the girls’ evaluation sheets:

  • I like knowing that they care. I liked hearing their stories. I think it really helped because hearing them and knowing what they’ve been through helps. It makes me try harder to get what I want and go where I want to be.
  • I liked hearing the women’s stories and about the programs that prepare you for college.
  • I think the most interesting thing I heard has to be believe in yourself and don’t give up. You could get there if you try and never give up.
  • I liked listening to everyone’s stories and their life struggles. I like how they weren’t scared to share what they’ve been through, throughout their childhood. I liked Nika’s presentation, it was heart-warming. And Cayla’s too, it kind of had a connection with me (my sister goes to WSU).
  • The most interesting thing I heard today was to dream big and start little by little.
  • The most interesting thing I heard was that it’s never too late to find out what to do with your career, because Karen started late but still succeeded.
  • I liked Claire’s presentation on how she discovered she was a scientific artist. And how she did running start.
  • I liked how all the presenters were very detailed about how they got interested in technical degrees.
  • The most interesting thing about today was how they have people test out how easy or complicated some products are so they can fix them.
  • If you want to do something that you love to do, don’t just sit there, you have to move!
  • The most interesting thing I heard today was it’s never too late to do what you want to do.
  • I liked learning about what exactly Blink is as a company. And I liked how everyone shared the experiences and the things they did to get where they are now.
  • Today I think I became more intrigued by technology and engineering because of the amazing stories, lots of details and facts. And all the different ways they had gotten into school with little money.
  • What I liked the most was the exposure to tech life.
  • I liked the tour and how cool all the tech stuff is- so interesting!
  • I liked hearing inspirational stories from women in the technical field.
  • I liked their past and how they became what they are now.
  • I liked that they had research labs and that they can change the surrounding of it to fit the research experiment they need.
  • I learned that we should dream big and that that’s what we need other than perseverance and stamina in order to be successful in life.
  • I thought it was interesting that it took a few years because Blink actually got started and became a successful company.
  • I liked when we toured the company and the stories everyone told from when they were in college.
  • I liked that you don’t have to be good at math to be an engineer and that art can go along with engineering.
  • The most interesting thing was that women today have a lot of opportunities and can dream big and be an engineer. And make a lot of money!
  • I liked hearing about how it took time and effort to get where they are now.

Thank you all for your tireless efforts on behalf of IGNITE and the lives of young women!


Cathi Rodgveller

View the Franklin High School Chapter Page