(photo provided by Sangeetha Parthasarathi)
Sangeetha Parthasarathi took a self-guided path to learn design and successfully built a portfolio that led her to work as a product designer in India for over a year. Throughout this journey, she discovered that design encompasses much more than aesthetics – it revolves around crafting a robust design strategy to ensure functionality and user satisfaction. This realization sparked her desire to pursue further academic growth in the field of design thinking, which led her to the decision of pursuing a Masters in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and this summer, to a UX Design internship at Google.
Parthasarathi, who will graduate in May, 2024, chose the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering at IUPUI for several compelling reasons. She was impressed by the diverse and cutting-edge courses offered, which catered to her passion for technology and human-centered design. Secondly, the school’s commitment to practical experience through internships and industry collaborations aligned perfectly with her goal of gaining hands-on experience in the field of HCI. “I valued the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world projects, preparing me to thrive in the industry. Furthermore, the welcoming and inclusive community at Luddy stood out to me. The collaborative and supportive environment fostered a conducive learning atmosphere, which I believed would enhance my academic journey and personal growth,” Parthasarathi said.
She said her choice of HCI was a natural extension of her existing experience and interest in design. “I was drawn to HCI because it combines my passion for technology with my desire to improve user experiences. Pursuing HCI was a way for me to deepen my understanding of design thinking, user research, and usability evaluation, making me better equipped to create meaningful and user-centric products or services.”
Working with the Google Design System
Parthasarathi applied for her internship through the Google Careers website after she came across the opportunity by conducting a simple online search. She spent 12 weeks at Google HQ in San Francisco, working with cross-functional teams to breathe life into an innovation project, which included building a feature prioritization user survey to capture the user reaction; crafting low-mid fidelity wireframes to receive feedback from stakeholders and designers on the design direction; and, after many iterations and feedback cycles, arriving at a concept and feature development and crafting final UI mocks for the same.
Navigating through ambiguity
“Working with companies like Google, I often felt like there is so much learn, I almost felt like I was in space. Every time there was a creative block or if I was stuck in the weeds of the project, I was able to reach out collaborate,” she said. “Initially, I felt overwhelmed and intimidated, hesitating to reach out for feedback and collaboration. I struggled to showcase my work with conviction and would inadvertently talk down its value, undermining my efforts. However, as I progressed, I recognized the importance of valuing my skills and contributions.”
Parthasarathi says Luddy prepared her through a relentless focus on prioritizing users’ needs and desires and an application of Design Thinking principles, fostering innovative problem-solving and user-centric solutions. She also learned dedication to reducing cognitive load for users, creating intuitive interfaces that enhance usability.
She said Luddy also fostered her eagerness to ask questions fearlessly, promoting a deeper understanding of complex topics and facilitating continuous learning. She has had to demonstrate adaptability, quickly learning new tools and methodologies to tackle diverse design challenges effectively, and cultivate effective storytelling skills, allowing her to articulate design rationale and influence stakeholders with compelling narratives.
“When it comes to my future career plans, I approach them with a dynamic perspective. While I recognize the importance of setting goals, I also acknowledge that certain factors are beyond our complete control. Instead, I focus on becoming an exceptional designer with a diverse skill set and a passion for making a significant impact in the field.” Ultimately, Parthasarathi’s ambition is to leave a lasting impression through her work, leaving behind a legacy of groundbreaking designs that positively impact users and society as a whole.
Her advice to other would-be UX Designers is to stay curious. “Curiosity has been the driving force behind my passion for design, and I firmly believe that it is the key to staying motivated and inspired in this field.”