Veronica With Four Eyes

What’s In My Bag- Project Management Intern Edition

This summer, I’ve been interning at a major tech company as a project management intern. This means that I work with engineers, designers, and other project managers to design a feature for a popular software application. While I can’t reveal the details of my project, I thought it might be helpful for people to see what I bring to work every day and some basics about how I use assistive technology at my internship. Here is what’s in my bag as a project management intern with low vision.

Two strap backpack

In order to get to my building, I would walk a short distance from my intern housing to a shuttle pick-up area which would take me directly to the front door of my building. I found that messenger bags threw off my balance a bit, and I was worried about dropping them or having the strap break while I was walking. Luckily, all interns were provided with a two-strap backpack with company branding- the specific backpack is called “The North Face Connector.” I decided to tie some colorful ribbons on my bag so that I could easily locate it in the trunk of a car or on the floor of my office.

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Laptop with accessibility settings enabled

All interns are given a company laptop for the summer, though don’t get to choose what model they get. I have a Surface Book 2 with a 15″ screen, which I can’t carry by myself due to limited strength in my hands. It fits perfectly in my backpack though, and I connect it to the Surface Dock on my desk once I get to work in the morning. If I have to go to a meeting, I carry it in my backpack, which is common for other project managers to do.

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High-contrast markers

Whenever I take notes by hand, it’s often so I can quickly write down ideas or show the note pages to others. I like using high-contrast fine point markers the best because they show up well when I scan the documents and are easy to read. I can also easily write sticky notes or note cards that I can put on my desk or scan with Office Lens. This preference for markers is interesting to me, since I normally use ultra fine pens in lots of different colors in my schoolwork, but since I do so much scanning for handwritten notes, the thick black markers work best for my internship.

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Small notebook

I carry a small (5″ x 7″) notebook for quickly taking notes by hand and then scanning them into my computer. I don’t tend to have a lot of information written down by hand, but it’s great for when I need to write quick notes and don’t have my computer with me. Some examples of notes that I keep in my notebook include questions for other staff members, answers to questions, or reminders to put in my calendar. Most of my notes are written extremely large, the equivalent of 48 point font, while diagrams are written with a smaller 24 point font.

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Dry erase board

While I have two dry erase boards in my office, I like to keep a smaller (8″ x 10″) board in my backpack that I can use to draw out my ideas or walk through a design concept, or have someone else draw things out for me. The smaller board is also easy for me to take pictures of and save the scans on my computer. I got mine from a conference I attended several months ago, though there are plenty available on the internet.

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I don’t always use a screen reader with my laptop, but having access to headphones makes it easy for me to turn it on as needed or use the Immersive Reader to have a web page or document read out loud. I can also listen to music while I work on long documents, which I use my personal iPad for (more on that later).

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Offline copy of meetings schedule with room numbers

Once upon a time, I had my entire calendar crash and I had no idea where my 11:00 meeting was. I wandered up and down the hallways trying to remember what number it was, and eventually ran into my manager who helped me find where I needed to go. I didn’t get in trouble for what happened, but from that point on I made sure to take notes on where my meetings were supposed to be, and when. It’s not fun to walk into a meeting super late, or worse, walk into the wrong meeting at the wrong time.

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Badge with tactile marker

When my badge is not clipped onto my pants or jacket, I have it in the side pocket of my backpack. I added a piece of tape on the side of it so that I can easily distinguish it from other identical cards in my backpack. I’m proud to say that I haven’t lost my badge or left it anywhere this summer… well, at least not yet!

Personal electronics- iPad and phone

While I don’t use these items frequently while I am working, there are times when I want to check different versions of how a publically available website or application look on different devices, so I pull them up on my personal iPad or Android phone. I also use my phone for other items at work such as calling for shuttles, Google Pay for lunch, and magnifying items for short periods of time.

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Final thoughts

When I first started as a project management intern, I was worried that I would be carrying a backpack full of assistive technology or that I would have trouble taking notes without my computer. Luckily, I have found several different solutions that work well for me, and I hope that other project management interns, or prospective interns, can benefit from what I have learned so far!

What's In My Bag- Project Management Intern Edition. Here's everything in my backpack that I use as a project management intern with low vision at a well known large tech company