Meghan McGrath, former CEWiT graduate assistant, says she has found the perfect intersection of her crazy career path at IBM. After graduating from IU in 2015 with an MA in Folklore and an MS in Information Science, McGrath now works as a design researcher for mainframe systems and cryptography.
“My library background helps me understand the information-seeking patterns of users, and my information science background helps me understand computer systems and the way their interfaces are structured,” said McGrath. “Folklore and oral history basically translate to the user research I’m doing now, in which I interview complete strangers about the things that make them happy, mad, confused, etc.”
Much like her career path, McGrath says she enjoyed being a part of CEWiT for its interdisciplinary approach. “I didn’t have to major in computer science to learn about tech,” she said. “I loved hearing about the different ways people applied technology to their fields,” whether it was computer science, biology, linguistics, archeology, business or education.
McGrath says she is not sure if she ever has a typical workday, but most of what she does revolves around IBM’s Design Thinking practices. “There’s a good balance between working hard and iterating constantly, and then having spontaneous nerf gun fights in the studio,” she said. “There’s a lot of creativity and it’s fun to see what different people come up with.” Her favorite tool is a program called Murally, which lets teams brainstorm, prototype, test, research, and interview synthesize even when working remotely.
Even though IBM is over a hundred years old, McGrath says she is surprised by how new her job feels. “We still do a lot of brainstorming and experimenting and making stuff. A lot of it has to do with current and upcoming trends in tech.”
McGrath’s advice for young women entering tech fields today is to think big. “IU has so many opportunities to collaborate and get involved in things, or to start something new,” she said. “Get to know a professor whose work you admire. Apply for a grant, or submit an academic paper for publication. Speak at a conference. Study abroad. Take a coding class, or at least a workshop. And obviously go to everything that CEWiT puts together, because it is the bee’s knees.”