My wonderful internship at Good Lab — Kristy

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(Note: Every summer Good Lab invites students from post-secondary institutions to serve a short-term internship. Kristy is one of them this year, from May to July. Recently she wrote a journal and recorded memorable moment in this lovely social innovation workspace. Thank you, Kristy!)

Hi! I’m Kristy (the one who is in the pink jacket), Good Lab’s intern this summer. Usually, I study in Social Policy and Administration at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Working in the Good Lab with a passionate group of 11 persons (Ada, Kelvin, Fai, Max, Etienne, Jamie, Jane, Michelle, Pico, Rainbow and Wing) is the best vocational experience for me ever. I enjoy the co-working space and co-sharing lifestyle in Good Lab.

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Unlike the typical office, Good Lab is open and free. I don’t need to work in one fixed spot but I can move to different places to work comfortably, and the bar table is my top choice where always allows my creative ideas to pop up.

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Hub B is also a good choice, it is an open kitchen and conversation space. In Hub B, my team likes sitting on the long picnic bench to have lunch, chit-chat and share food with other Good Lab’s members. Sometimes, we cook our lunch as well.I baked chocolate brownie with one of my teammates once and I also learned how to make Fajita pasta from a Good Lab’s member who is an amateur cook.

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Our Good Lab team also had a potluck at Kelvin’s home in July. We cooked vegetarian dishes and shared among teammates since it was a Green Monday. That was a wonderful night!

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Good Lab where is the warmest workplace I have ever worked, it helps every member to build a close relationship with a keyword: ‘sharing’. Everyone is in the Good Lab is more than a colleague, but a friend or even a family member.

If I need to describe Good Lab in four words, I will use:

Innovative, long-sighted, talented and empathetic

My team vividly shows me the innovative mindset out of the book and has given me long-sighted enlightenment. My teammates are all full of creative ideas try to guide participants in the workshop to take multiple perspectives and generate innovative ideas for solving social issues.

There are four important things I’ve learned through helping out in the workshop:

  1. To be critical instead of being judgmental
  2. To see social issues, not as a problem but a situation of circumstance
  3. To find root causes of the issues and solve them, not look for the symptom and palliate them
  4. To be empathetic and stay true, get to truly understand others’ needs and never forget the original intention you are striking for
  5. Nothing is impossible, everyone can improve the society with creative ideas

I helped out in several workshops in the past month, there were different participants who are working in NGOs, officials or businessmen. As an observer in the workshops, I saw facial expression filled with confusion in the beginning, but appealing and appreciated at the end.It is cheerful to see participants who bring along a new innovative mindset leaving the room. The field trip is another impressive part in workshops. Visiting the homeless in Sham Shui Po and talk to them can really understand their felt needs and how bad the social issues of homelessness in Hong Kong. The workshops pull me closer to some of the social issues with empathy and persuade me to believe that many social problems are not a dead end but a way to lead society out from a predicament.

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While social innovation is a core value of Good Lab, and social enterprise is the embodiment of social innovation. I’m interested in the social enterprise after one of the speakers in workshops introducing Green Monday and Diamond Cab. Recently, I read a catalog called SE Good Start to know more how to start up a social enterprise.

SE Good Start is a clear guidebook for readers to define what social enterprise is and to start up their businesses with simple steps.The skills of human management and writing proposal and the research method are all included in the guidebook which very considerate. Those skills are tiny little pieces of the puzzle, they make the whole social enterprise business plan to be more complete. The guidebook is also a checklist to ensure founders if they can meet the goal and mission of their social enterprise in every step. Readers are easy to read as well. Business model and development plan are all explained in easy language, thus even a non-business person can perceive the content and apply those skills to the business operation plan. The guidebook is indispensable for beginners to read.

However, the guide is not going deep enough on the guide of operation and development of a social venture. People always say that it is easy to open a shop but hard to keep it always open. Sustainable development is the most crucial part to be considered in running a business, especially social venture is not only for maximizing profits but also carrying a social mission. The guidebook is lack of the long-term developing plan of running a social venture. There are unpredictable risks in running a business, such as the appearance of competitors and high running cost. The problems cannot be solved by reading books but experiences and marketing strategies.

Overall, the guidebook did a good job to enrich our knowledge about the social venture, but operating a business with success needs more than a book in the long sight.

Social innovation is a good start of solving social issues in different ways. The emergence of social venture encourages every part of the society to solve the social issues together. Good Lab emphasizes the cross-sector collaboration, and people from different sectors can elaborate their own talents to create a sustainable solution. I hope that when I go back to school, I can use my experience in the Good Lab to influence my schoolmates to become a person like me, who think critically, and see social issues with empathy. I would use a three-dimensional thinking to find the root cause of the social issue and figure out new solutions with creative ideas.I believe that nothing is impossible if I dare to use my creativity with a passionate heart.

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