Career and Life Design Center

OU student uses design thinking to build her way toward successful future

icon of a calendarSeptember 21, 2023

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OU student uses design thinking to build her way toward successful future
Madison Lorincz

Madison Lorincz

Madison Lorincz has used her experiences in OU's Career and Life Design Center and COM 4970 capstone course to find purpose in her academic program and embark on a meaningful, productive career path.

Oakland University’s newly established Career and Life Design Center incorporates design thinking, a philosophy of self-empowerment, to support students at each stage of their academic and professional lives.   

At the Center’s grand opening, in August, student Madison Lorincz spoke about her experiences with design thinking – both through the Center and within OU’s COM 4970 capstone course.

Like many students, Lorincz didn’t have a clear vision for her future when she began her college career. During two years at community college, she puzzled over her career path, pivoting between majors before deciding to pursue a communication degree.

After transferring to Oakland, she continued to grapple with uncertainty about her life and career goals. This past summer, she enrolled in the COM 4970 course, which helped transform her mindset and bring her career aspirations into focus. The course introduced her to design thinking, a concept that empowers individuals to build authentic, productive and purpose-filled lives. 

In the book “Designing Your Life,” Stanford University researchers Bill Burnett and Dave Evans lay the foundations for design thinking, equipping readers with principles, practices and tools to help clarify their interests, goals and values. Students in the capstone course used the book to engage in many activities, including building a compass, odyssey planning and prototyping.

Madison Lorincz and Jennifer Heisler

Lorincz is pictured with Communication Professor Jennifer Heisler, who teaches OU's COM 4970 capstone course, integrating design thinking to help students reflect on their college experience and prepare for life after graduation. 

Building a compass helped Lorincz align her career aspirations with her values. Odyssey planning allowed her to be creative, exploring ideas for multiple life/career paths. Through prototyping, she put her interests into action by connecting with professionals, learning about their careers and the paths that led to their current roles.

Over the past six months, Lorincz developed a strong interest in environmental sustainability and started researching career opportunities in that field. 

“I asked people who worked in sustainability about their stories and how they got to where they are today,” she said. “As a result of those conversations, I secured a sustainability internship with my current employer. The experience helped me discover the positive impact I want to make on people’s lives and on the planet.”

Lorincz said the capstone course involved deep self-reflection, prompting her to examine her values and motivations. 

“I had never considered why I work or how my values impact how I look at and navigate my life,” she shared. “The course was all about figuring out those questions and looking at life as a journey, rather than a destination.” 

Professor Jennifer Heisler, who teaches the course, said it “includes reflections on favorite departmental and OU experiences and how those moments have prepared students for life after graduation. Along the way, we talk through our graduation nerves and engage in hands-on career preparation.”

Madison Lorincz

During the Career and Life Design Center's grand opening, Lorincz spoke about how she used design thinking to take control of her life and career direction.  

During the class, Lorincz visited OU’s Career and Life Design Center where professional staff offered guidance on her odyssey plan, resume customization and next steps for after graduation.

At the Center’s grand opening, Lorincz spoke passionately about how its resources and support can empower all students to design their lives with purpose. 

“I am so excited for all Oakland University students to have the opportunity to explore, better get to know themselves, and plan for their future utilizing the Career and Life Design Center,” she said. “Designing your life means taking control and creating a life you want to live by building your way forward, not thinking your way forward. A well-designed life is one in which who you are, what you believe and what you do all line up together."  

As her future takes shape, Lorincz is using the insights she’s gained to connect with others along the way to a meaningful, well-lived life.

“One of the biggest realizations I’ve had is just to not be afraid,” she said. “Whether you are having a conversation with a CEO or with an intern, we’re all human and we all deserve the same respect. So keep putting yourself out there and connecting with people, because you never know what opportunities may come.”

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