UW Blueprint is a student-run club that provides top-tier tech for non-profit organizations. Founded at the University of Waterloo in 2016, we could not have provided strong partnerships with NPOs without the dedication, passion, and time of our members. We regularly spotlight members and teams that have left a tremendous impact on Blueprint.
Tell us about yourself and your background with Blueprint!
My name is Rona and I’m in my fourth year of the Math/BBA dual degree program with Waterloo and Laurier! I joined Blueprint in January this year (though time has flown by since) on the design team as a content strategist and currently serve as one of three VP Project Scopings.
My background is quite colourful having completed co-op terms in marketing, venture philanthropy, and tech; currently I’m just wrapping up my term with the Business Strat & Ops team at Microsoft and upon graduation I will be joining BCG’s Toronto office as an Associate Consultant.
Having the privilege to be quite exploratory with my co-ops, I’ve discovered a curiosity at the cusp of technology, strategy, and social impact. I think this intersection holds immense potential and love the concept of applying private sector practice or innovation to tackle social sector issues. I find that oftentimes there is a misconception that social sector work is less lucrative due to a lack of funding or talent momentum — but that is entirely not the case; in Canada alone — societal issues like chronic homelessness, food insecurity, education accessibility among so many others are equivalently (if not more) complex and interconnected than their private sector counterparts and am proud to be apart of an organization like Blueprint that catalyzes the impact of interventions with technology solutions for nonprofits. (so cool!!!)
Could you tell us about your role with UW Blueprint? What’s a day in the life of a VP Scoping?
As VP Scoping, I work alongside a team of two of the loveliest humans (shoutout Ayaan and Anushka) to discover, evaluate, and onboard passionate nonprofit clients and interesting projects for Blueprint.
I like to describe Scoping as being the starting point for the magic that happens at Blueprint. Each term, before our devs and designers get crafty building the coolest products and platforms, it is our responsibility to first seek out those nonprofit organizations championing the greatest impact at local and national scale. As a team, we then meticulously develop a project plan of Statement of Work that encapsulates the exact features and requirements of the product — keeping in mind timelines and technical feasibility as informed by best practices gained from historic development. In a nutshell, I can describe the responsibilities of VP Scoping as being three-fold:
- Discovering impactful and passionate nonprofit organizations;
- Consulting with project candidates to identify technical challenges and areas for technology augmentation;
- Orchestrating cross-team efforts to capture asks in a detailed statements of work for selected projects.
With that said, our day to day looks quite different depending on the phase of scoping we are in — you can find us doing anything from running diligence on potential nonprofit clients, conducting Blueprint intro calls or scoping pods with clients to deduce their project needs, collaborating with developer/design teams to curate project plans, or strategizing on outreach approaches. Ultimately, by the end of the term we have a really great set of projects (accompanied by detailed project plans) that will set up incoming teams for the term for success.
What’s your favourite part of UW Blueprint?
I heard this saying once that a team or organization is only as extraordinary as its people — in which case I would describe Blueprint as pretty extraordinary. Both pertaining to the people you work with on the team, and the clients you meet along the way.
I love the pay-it-forward culture Blueprint has cultivated over the years — a community of individuals who truly enjoy working and learning alongside one another. This then translates into incredible talent retention and the development of leaders who pay forward their learnings to Blueprint newbies. The leadership at Blueprint through and through are some of the most genuine and creative individuals, always looking for ways to improve on culture, productivity, and open to new ideas and ways of doing things. Further, beyond the dope project experience you will undoubtedly gain — Blueprint craft teams also support your own career development, integrating weekly project updates with portfolio development workshops and interviewing support among other things. We hire great people, but it doesn’t stop there, we make sure to build them up to their fullest potential as well.
As VP Scoping, I consider myself one of the luckiest people on the team as I also have the opportunity to learn from incredibly passionate and brilliant nonprofit leaders. One of my favourite parts about this term as VP Scoping was listening to clients light up while speaking to their stories, why the cause they support is important to them, and their vision for what we can do to help. It is such an energizing experience and one I always learn so much from.
What are your plans and goals for the future?
My Fall term looks a little different this year — I will be spending the next four months in Madrid on an exchange term (fun fact — with our current president Gabby!). I am excited to immerse myself in an entirely new culture, meet new people, and hopefully bullet train myself around Europe (all with a prosperous Spanish vocabulary of four words — wish me luck!)
During this time, I will also be completing my fellowship with the Social Innovation Academy and volunteering with Collaboration Partners, a Canada-wide pro bono consulting group.
Although I will be taking a step down from Blueprint, something I always want to hold myself accountable to is doing intentional work in the social sector; it is important to me that I am continuously challenging myself to learn about the societal issues around me and reflecting on how my own background and skill set can be leveraged to make difference. Hopefully one day I will find myself back on the team and supporting some game-changing projects.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself!
My favourite animal is the silkie chicken — they’re so fabulous.
What can we catch you doing outside of school/work?
I love traveling and have a seemingly endless travel bucket list — which I’m excited to cross off a couple items while on Exchange come September. Over the course of the pandemic I’ve also revisited an ebbing hobby of videography, so you can definitely expect travel vlogs and Insta reels coming from me soon ;)
Beyond that love coffee, rings, and always open to a good book reco — also actively collecting as I scavenger Europe.
Would you rather fight 1 horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?
I think 100 duck-sized horses would be kinda cute — like aggressive puppy therapy.