Madalyn Purcell, BSI '17
Madalyn Purcell is only two months into her job as a User Experience Associate in the Washington, D.C. area, but she has quickly realized how beneficial her classes at UMSI were.
“UMSI was definitely a great intro to the UX field and the information technology world in general,” says Madalyn, who graduated with her BSI in April. “The classes I took were very helpful in building my portfolio, which was essential for my getting a job. Being able to showcase my skills through the projects that I worked on – especially my experiences working on UX team projects where we researched and designed solutions for clients – that was key for me.”
Working for an Alexandria, Va. consulting firm, Forum One, Madalyn supports the UX side of working with non-profit and government clients. Her wide variety of work includes conducting stakeholder interviews, doing usability testing, analyzing survey results and analytics, aiding in the formation of project recommendations and writing up reports for clients, and her favorite - designing wireframes.
“I pretty much do anything you can think of related to user experience,” she says. “And I like being in a consulting environment because I get to work on exciting projects that deal with different topics. For example, I get to work with museums and the Peace Corps.”
Madalyn, who grew up in Rochester, Mich., arrived at UM with no particular major in mind. “I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was taking classes in everything – anything and everything. I actually found about the School of Information from my friends. We were all in the same position our sophomore year, trying to figure out what to major in.”
Researching UMSI, she was attracted to the school’s interdisciplinary approach to its curriculum. The school’s classes touched upon everything she was interested in.
“I’m one of those people who have a lot of skill sets and interests in different areas, and I enjoy that,” she says. “UMSI allowed me to build on a lot of different areas. I learned about the user experience process, graphic design, and even took a couple classes that involved coding. I love the design aspect of UMSI the most, but those coding classes gave me the foundation to understanding how the technical side works, how the code is built and functions. I also like how UMSI has a people side to it too, whether it be gaining experience working on team projects, talking about social media, or learning about how to understand your users. A big part of UX is being able to put yourself in the shoes of your users, understand their needs, and design a product that caters to those needs.”
It wasn’t all academics at UMSI. In her senior year, Madalyn launched Mentality Magazine, serving as its founder and Editor in Chief. The magazine is aimed at educating the UM community about mental health through openly discussing mental health and making it a priority. They publish a print edition every semester and online articles regularly on their website, www.mentalitymagazine.org.
“We didn’t have a publication on campus completely dedicated to mental health,” she says. “I recognized that and set out to fill that need. It’s been really rewarding to have started something that is making a difference in people’s lives – whether it be our members who contribute or our readers. I was also lucky to find some passionate people who were sophomores and juniors to join the team and keep it running after the year was up. I kind of wish I hadn’t graduated so I could have stuck around a little longer, but I know my Executive Board can handle it. They’re doing a great job, and I’m so glad to see Mentality continuing.”
Meanwhile, Madalyn is adapting to life in the D.C. area. She enjoys walking to work every day and going to town for client meetings. On weekends, she meets up with friends in D.C. and visits museums. She’s hoping to take a photography class and spend some time outdoors capturing photos of the city (carrying on her passion for photography that developed while taking photos for the Michiganensian Yearbook).
“I’ve never lived outside of Michigan before,” she says. “But I’m excited to have started a new adventure, and I’m very grateful to be where I am.”