When Madison Borgmann began her freshman year at IU as a journalism major, she didn’t think she would ever pursue a career in tech.
“I was an Ernie Pyle Scholar, which was a great opportunity,” says Borgmann. “But I quickly realized that I didn’t want to write. I really enjoyed design.”
So, in her sophomore year, she quit her job at the IDS and got more involved with CEWiT, finding that she strongly identified with its mission of providing a community for women interested in tech. Soon after, Borgmann switched her major to informatics and was hired at CEWiT as a design intern.
“That was around the start of the Media School talks,” recalls Borgmann, referring to IU’s recent merger of its journalism school with its telecommunications and communications and culture departments in 2014. “The whole school was going to be restructured and there was a new focus on tech because it has such a strong impact on media. I caught on to that and realized I needed to base my studies in tech so I made the switch to informatics.”
Now, having graduated from IU in 2016, Borgmann just received her master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon in human computer interaction, or user experience design.
The program, which lasts one year, is divided into three semesters. In the fall, students learn the fundamentals of design in their gen-eds. Then, in the spring and summer, while working in teams, students are paired with companies like NASA and MasterCard to research and find a solution to a user experience issue the given company is having.
“User experience design is at the intersection of psychology, design, engineering and computer science,” says Borgmann. “You get to see the end to end life cycle of a product and sort of act as a consultant. It’s a different kind of degree in that you aren’t a master of psychology, engineering or design but you know how to work fluidly in each of them.”
This kind of work also appealed to Borgmann’s journalistic sensibilities since it involves a fair amount of talking to clients and research.
Borgmann worked with a nonprofit called The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern PA, a program that seeks to pair children of various organizations with mentors. As her project, Borgmann rolled out a virtual training app. The community-driven goals of the organization reminded her of CEWiT.
“Pittsburgh needs mentors,” says Borgmann. “The small interactions that you get with mentors can change the games for these kids. CEWiT also had a social good mission that spoke to me.”
Now that the program at Carnegie Mellon is finished, Borgmann, who is originally from Muncie, is looking for work in Pittsburgh, a city she says is becoming a major tech hub thanks to the successful universities that are based there. Companies like Facebook, Google, Apple and Uber have campuses there.
Her time at The Mentoring Partnership, along with her years at CEWiT, also gave Borgmann the nonprofit bug, so she hopes to find work in that sector.
“There is very little tech being applied to nonprofit work,” says Borgmann. “There is so much that tech can do for society. It has the power to bring people together and do so much good.”