redpepper Internships as Told by an Empathy Map

I had never heard of an empathy map before becoming a redpepper intern. But, now it appears I have sipped the rp Kool-Aid- because I can’t think of  a better way to convey my internship experience at redpepper than just that. An empathy map is an exercise that redpepper uses with new clients to uncover their visions and goals—to empathize with them. During this exercise, redpepper and the client brainstorm what the client wants the consumers of the project to see, feel, think, and do when they interact with it. So, I invite you to look through my eyes at the redpepper internship experience as I guide you through my empathy map.


Some highlights:


  • Open space: Walking into redpepper, you are greeted by wide, open space, with a plethora of places to meet. redpepper’s culture shaped the space it is in, and the space helps shape redpepper’s culture. All of the open space, along with the variety of places to meet, enables us to connect with one another, collaborate and share ideas. You will rarely see redpeppers working in their assigned offices. They are scattered all throughout the office, working in a variety of environments—depending on what fits their current task and mood. Seeing the office can tell you more than just where redpepper works—it will tell you how redpepper works.
  • Dogs: The dogs are, in my opinion, one of the best sights to see during your time at redpepper. Admittedly, much of the time you are happier to see them than they are to see you, but they will bring a smile to your face nonetheless.


  • “I am doing purposeful work”: At redpepper, you have a role on your team. You are doing purposeful work because you are integrated into one of the company’s subsystems. You will never think “I know every coffee order in the office.” Instead, you will think about the value your work brings to your team. It is plain to see the appreciation your mentors have for your work, whether it’s a kind comment or a #preesh shoutout on the appreciation Slack channel. To me, knowing that you have done purposeful work and made an impact is the most rewarding thought to have during an internship.
  • “I want to work at a place like this”: My supervisor once told me, “Once you work at a place with a culture like this, it is nearly impossible to ever go back.” Between the unique people, the fun space, the creative atmosphere and the dogs, it would be a helpless effort to try to refute her comment. You will find yourself thinking daily, “I want to work at a place like this.” This thought is often also followed by, “Wait, I kind of do work at a place like this.” Then, “I need to figure out a way that I can keep working at this place.” It’s a thought progression that can only originate from redpepper’s unique culture.


  • Inspired: After speaking with redpepper’s CEO Tim for 10 minutes, you will walk away with 15 books to read and 12 TedTalks to watch. After attending one weekly alignment meeting, you will learn 5 new daily exercises to make you happier. After engaging in one “Coffee & Questions” meeting with the department heads, you will generate 7 new ideas to support your career development. Inspiration is everywhere at redpepper—inspirational quotes literally cover the walls of the central hub at redpepper. It’s nearly impossible to leave the office at the end of the day without a little bit of Ghandi or Henry Ford swirling around your head.
  • Busy: Jumping from a daily meeting to a client call to the internship project, you will look up at the clock and wonder how it got to be 4:30. You will feel like another bee in the hive as you become integrated with redpepper’s hard-working staff. It’s the type of busy that you’ve heard is characteristic of “the agency life.” But, you will feel lucky that this type of busy at redpepper is the fun type of busy.


  • Grow: All in all, the things we see, think, and feel at redpepper are crafted so that we can do one main thing: grow. redpepper has an obsession with growth. They want their employees to grow by developing their passions and making plans for their careers. That aspect of the culture trickles down from the top and impacts the intern experience. We are encouraged to reach out to people, to attend meetings, to ask questions, and to voice our ideas. Throughout all of these activities, we are growing. I am most grateful for this part of my internship. What else would you want out of an internship other than to grow yourself? As redpepper interns, we are given every bit of opportunity and encouragement to take control of our experience and grow more than we thought we could throughout our time here, and then grow more.

I hope this empathy map has showed you what a redpepper intern will see, think, feel and do during their time spent here. I think the greatest thing I will take from this internship is the action it has caused me take- the “do.” Not even in school have I been surrounded by at atmosphere so focused on intentional growth. I have the drive to read and explore and learn- not for a grade, but for myself. If you are thinking about interning at redpepper, I have one piece of advice: take control of your personal growth and go for it.


Elise Ferguson, Client Services intern, Louisville, KY