CEWiT Graduate Assistant Hired at IBM

By Sophie Babcock

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

CEWiT graduate assistant Meghan McGrath has recently accepted a job at IBM, and will start in June as a User Experience Designer. McGrath said her experiences with CEWiT helped her pave a path into the tech world.

Last fall, McGrath was awarded one of CEWiT’s Grace Hopper Conference Travel scholarships, and she attended the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in October. The conference is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists, offering career fairs, networking events, workshops, and various speakers from all aspects of computing and technology. It was there McGrath gave her resume to an IBM recruiter, eventually landing a job at the Fortune 500 company.

“Being involved with CEWiT helped me become more aware of the contemporary conversations around women in technology,” said McGrath. “The network it creates, it’s nice to see other women doing the jobs you want to do and succeeding in them.”

It was not until McGrath started her masters in Information Science and Folklore at IU that she stumbled upon CEWiT. She saw similarities in the types of web design she would do for CEWiT and the work she did for her last job in the Office of Tourism and Culture in Chicago. “It seemed like a really good fit,” said McGrath.

To some, folklore and information science may be an odd combination for a master’s degree, but to McGrath it is a natural transition. “People always think it’s funny, but to me they’re very similar,” said McGrath. “In folklore you’re trying to figure out what’s important to people and how to articulate it, and for user experience you look at a machine or program and figure out what people actually want it to do and what questions it’s supposed to answer.”

McGrath will attend a design camp in Austin, Texas in preparation for designing interfaces for IBM's z Systems. The camp will be project based, and McGrath said she is excited to be constantly learning about new things and people.

While interviewing with IBM, McGrath said she asked about the diversity in the office. “Hearing that there was a focus on diversity was something I was looking for and was something I was more aware of because of working with CEWiT,” said McGrath. “I was excited to work with teams that are aware that users are all sorts of people, men and women and all across the board. For me I would want to be helping design products that many different types of people can use.”

McGrath’s piece of advice for women just starting their undergraduate experience is to find as many opportunities as possible. “There are opportunities for research or to do internships or learn about the things you are passionate about,” McGrath said. “There are ways for you to work on projects that are bigger than those you think you could work on. For me that was the biggest thing.”

Students wanting to learn more about the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference can find more information here.