Sarah Lashinsky shines as a creative creature with a social good soul. As a Georgia Tech grad toting an industrial design degree, Lashinsky is geek chic with specialties ranging from UX/UI to visual storytelling. This Goldilocks has worked for startup sweethearts, like Safi Choo and STE(A)M Truck, and is just the right fit for your mid-sized biz.
What’s your current role?
I was the first full-time staff hire for STE(A)M Truck, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that creates immersive, hands-on STEM + Arts education programs for underserved students in grades 3 through 8. My role at STE(A)M Truck was multifaceted and drew on many different areas of expertise. I taught, developed curriculum, delivered programs, designed and created print and digital communication tools. Alongside our founding director, Jason Martin, I interviewed, mentored and led our team as it grew to the five fantastic people it is today. I even drove the truck daily and had to get a Commercial Driver’s License!
What startup/tech projects have you worked on?
Right out of Georgia Tech, I worked on the Safi Choo toilet, an affordable and sustainably-made toilet system that has a unit for collecting waste, which can be processed and used as charcoal briquettes. The project was the culmination of years of focused energy of a Tech classmate of mine, Jasmine Burton. Jasmine’s drive and determination is as steady as a train, and working under her was a great lesson in focus and finding your passion.
STE(A)M Truck is also still very much in its startup phases, but with a service model rather than a product model. There was a brief time when I was working on both projects simultaneously – I would spend my mornings working on Safi Choo and rush to the Truck to be able to teach after-school programming. Sitting still has never been an expertise of mine.
What tech/tools are essential to you?
I require a pen, graph paper, and a straight edge to think through my thoughts, and stay on top of my punch lists. I have also developed a geekishly-in-depth color-coding process for myself to organize tasks, and have become obsessed with bullet journaling.
Adobe anything have become second nature to me, and I don’t go a day without having InDesign, Illustrator, and PhotoShop open (usually simultaneously). I take oceans of pictures, daily, which are also super important. I use pictures to document, to tell stories, to communicate. I would admittedly be lost without my iPhone. Anything I can’t figure out, I YouTube.
How do you stay informed & on top of emerging trends?
In part, I just consume a lot of content. I have always been an early adopter of updates and new tips and tricks. Secondly, as a young person in tech, trends so often are dictated and perpetuated by my peers, and I can just kind of adjust by osmosis.
I attend Creative Mornings breakfast lectures whenever I can. Whatever and whenever I read, I try to read content written by women and/or people of color, since you have to work harder to hear those voices. I love Podcasts; I’ll never get enough of Another Round and Stuff You Should Know.
Why the interest in STEAM education?
STE(A)M Truck is specifically invested in extending STEAM education to underserved communities, so I would like to speak to that, in particular.
As an Atlanta native, I have civic engagement and human rights in my bones. There is so much history here of social and socioeconomic stratification, and STEM and the Arts are not immune to this divide. Far too often, a student’s zip code is a determiner of a student’s success. The place you are born will dictate your health and your upward mobility. This should be a cause for alarm for all of us, even those of us who have been born into privilege.
Fortunately for us, though, the barriers to 21st-century tools and tech are becoming smaller and smaller, as resources become more democratized, and prices drop on tools that used to be cost prohibitive. The sharing economy is opening up everything to us, and there is so much to learn from the “fail forward” mentality STEM and the Arts bolster.
By extending the tools and technologies of the 21st century to historically under-resourced neighborhoods, we are only increasing the breadth of knowledge and applications available to us all. We are still in the process of determining how many of these tools should be applied, and the more minds the merrier!
What’s next on your list to learn?
I am using Codeacademy to re-up my front-end dev skills, and after that, Ruby on Rails and Node.js. I am also always trying to be a more effective and accessible writer. Visual storytelling comes to me naturally, but lately, I’ve really fallen in love with words and realized how wonderful it can be to always have the right ones on hand.
Why the interest in startups and the technology field?
I was always crafting and creating as a kid, and had a deep affinity for YouTube in its early days.
I’ve also always been one for asking how things work, to the point where it kind of irks me if I can’t. It was my mom who stumbled upon Tech’s School of Industrial Design, and as soon as I toured the studios as a high school junior, I was totally sold. The tech field is something that is always updating itself, always figuring out new ways to use old things – I love the limitlessness of it. Thoughtful design makes my skin prickle. I couldn’t do anything else.
Interested in working for a startup, mid-sized company, or a corporate giant?
Mid-sized! Big enough that people know who we are, small enough that I know most of our people. Call me Goldilocks.