(Deborah and Sara-Remi)@IBM

This summer, Deborah and I worked at IBM as Software Design interns.

Along with 13 others, we were part of a program called the Maelstrom, which happens 3 times a year. Within the Maelstrom, we both held the title of User Experience (UX) designers, but both dabbled in the roles of visual design and design research.

IBM was founded over 100 years ago and has always revolved around invention, innovation, and breaking the status quo. About 3 years ago, IBM decided that design was an integral part of these processes, and converted several of the IBM locations into design studios. Currently, the largest design studio is in Austin, Texas. In the Austin campus, there are around 3 full floors that have been designated specifically for design. The Maelstrom has its own studio on one of these floors, and is in the center of around 10 other product teams, allowing us to see projects being worked on and to overhear critiques and conversations.

We began working in our shorter project — the “Nanoproject” — for two weeks. But moving quickly wasn’t the hard part, not when you’re in a 15 person group. It was pretty chaotic, but working with so many people was intentionally part of the challenge. After we made our final presentation, we were split into three different teams of five. (Sara Remi and I were working on separate teams) Each team was working on a different problem and was given different expectations so it was pretty cool to see what everyone was up to on our weekly presentations. By the end, we are all expected to give our final one to the IBM Design executives, so there’s a lot of pressure!

Outside of the office, we have had time to explore both downtown Austin and some of the surround suburbia. Austin is an amalgam of old southern country and hipster delight. The barbeque, tacos, and burgers are unbeatable, and the fun design of houses converted to restaurants gives Austin a unique and comfortable feel. With an average temperature of 100 degrees each day, though, it has been hard to see as much as the outdoors as we would like, and it is super important to keep hydrated.

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