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As part of her graduate degree program in Experience Design, Northeastern University student Mary Amulya Joseph is expanding her industry knowledge as an Inclusive Design Researcher at the Institute for Human-Centered Design (IHCD), a Boston-based organization dedicated to enhancing the experiences of people of all ages, abilities, and cultures through excellence in design. In this position, she has had the opportunity to work on a diverse range of projects – and it has completely changed her way of thinking. Learn how Mary utilized on-campus resources to land her latest role, and how it is growing her skill set, below.

What is your role at the Institute for Human-Centered Design?

I was hired as an Inclusive Design Researcher. I worked on a wide range of projects, sometimes it would be user testing, reviewing benches, or town websites—and other times it would be surveying and making reports about physical spaces for schools, DCR Parks, MBTA, etc. At IHCD, I was also constantly learning through workshops, “lunch & learns”, articles and forever thankful to Valerie Fletcher for giving me an opportunity to attend the ABX conference where I met some wonderful people.

Was there a Professor or course that influenced your co-op?

From the very first semester, I have been working as a research assistant for Professor Miso Kim to address the needs of older adults during an emergency evacuation. During the research phase, I came across an article where older adults with disabilities were stranded in a nursing home with dirty water up to their waist during a Hurricane. It was through her I learned the importance of dignity and autonomy.

Later, I heard a talk by Alex Truesdell from Adaptive Design which was followed by a workshop during Professor Kristian Kloeckl’s course, Design for Behaviour and Experience. The talk and the workshop impacted me so much that I was determined to find an organization in Boston that was working towards similar goals. The Institute for Human-Centered Design not only shares similar goals but works on a wide range of projects in different mediums, from physical to digital with people of different spectrums from all over the world.

What made this co-op valuable to you?

It has changed my way of thinking. The realization that designers need to create experiences which do not cause a divide but instead provides opportunities for people of all ages, abilities and cultural backgrounds, to have an equally memorable experience. Having had the experience to test with real users who have disabilities and work alongside some amazing people helped me gain a better perspective about people with different abilities, ages, and cultures. I’m very excited and hoping my new gained knowledge will influence other designers that I may work with in the future, to realize the need to design for a wide range of users through research and user testing. IHCD has made a major impact in my life on a professional and a personal level.

Do not fear to reach out to a firm or organization if you believe in what they do, even if they do not have any job postings listed.