Austin Spivey joined the TechChange team this week to start her role this summer as an Instructional Design fellow. To introduce her to the team and our learning community, we sat down for a short Q&A. Welcome, Austin!
Q: How’s your first week going?
So well! I enjoyed such a warm welcome from the whole team — suffice to say, I know where to get great tacos on U Street now! There is such a wonderful work environment at TechChange, and although I still have a lot to learn, I already feel right at home.
Q: Could you share a bit about your background before TechChange?
I graduated from The College of William & Mary in May 2016 with a B.A. International Relations and a B.A. Middle Eastern Studies and spent the following year living in Muscat, Oman, studying Arabic intensively there as a Boren Scholar. In college, I worked as an editor for our journal of international studies and spent all four years in an a cappella group. I’m a Persian poetry enthusiast, classic rock junkie, and sushi fanatic.
Q: What originally interested you about joining TechChange?
The more I learned about TechChange, the more I fell in love with the company’s vision. TechChange is tackling the question of how best to invest into the immense human capital present in the international development world through online learning and is doing so comprehensively, attractively, and with an eye for detail. I love that the team is on the smaller side overall, which means not only that each team member contributes significantly to projects, but also that team members have the opportunity to wear many hats — for instance, as translators, which excites me as an Arabic and French speaker!
Q: I understand that you’ve just returned from Oman. How has the transition been to D.C.?
As a Richmond, VA native, I’m familiar with D.C., but have learned that living here is another experience entirely — I am slowly but surely mastering public transportation. Although I miss Oman, going straight into the TechChange office has made the transition much easier!
Q: How does Instructional Design fit into your interests? What interests you in your projects?
I worked as an Arabic T.A. while at W&M and struggled with questions similar to those that TechChange tackles in its projects — how can I keep my students excited about Arabic beyond their language requirements? What are the best ways to teach these concepts? How can I motivate my students to show up for T.A. sessions? Drawing on my experience as a T.A. has motivated me to become an innovator for the Instructional Design team, and as someone with a critical eye who deals in details, the position is a perfect fit. I love, too, that Instructional Design works on multiple projects from multiple clients at once — today, I learned more about prenatal medicine than I’d ever known in the past, and just from editing a project. I’m excited to dive into more diverse projects in the future.
Q: What is one thing that you’d love to learn or do this summer?
I would love to learn to use Adobe Photoshop, even though my artistic skills are neither here nor there!
Q: Lastly, what’s something that not a lot of people know about you?
I absolutely love watching paranormal investigation shows — no shame