Meg Kurdziolek ('05, '07, '11)
UX Researcher, Google
Class of ’05, ’07, ’11
I am a human factors and user experience (UX) researcher with 10+ years of industry experience. I have had a varied career, working for start-ups and large companies alike. Some of the topics I’ve published work on include: design research, educational-technology design, information visualization, human-robot interaction (HRI), and voice user interface (VUI) design. Currently, I’m a UX Researcher at Google, where I focus on making troubleshooting painless for Google Cloud Customers. I say I'm a "three-time Hokie", because I received my Ph.D. (‘11), master’s (‘07) and bachelor’s (‘’05) degrees from the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech.
How did the department equip you for the ‘real world’?
There are several skills and competencies I developed at Virginia Tech that I still use and practice routinely in my career. From my bachelor’s degree, I really learned "how to learn.” I know that no matter how technologies change, I am capable and able to learn it. That has allowed me to be fearless and gain technical expertise quickly in new domains. But also a lot of the skills I practiced during my master’s and doctorate years have been evergreen.
For example, in graduate school I learned how to write and document my research. Technical writing is a "soft" skill that is often overlooked but is critical to obtaining leadership positions. Also, in graduate school, you routinely need to present and defend your work to an audience of stakeholders. Presenting yourself well is another soft skill that can really elevate your career. In terms of actual curriculum, there are some lessons from my computer supported cooperative work, in addition to personal information management and information visualization classes that I reference to this day! Virginia Tech really gave me a foundation of knowledge and skills I've been able to tap into throughout my career.
Being a Virginia Tech alumna means...
While I was a student, I didn't really think too much about the Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) motto of Virginia Tech. I was active in the computer science department and I would volunteer with the Association of Women in Computing (AWC) and other service organizations, but for me performing that service was just part of being in the Virginia Tech community. Once I left Virginia Tech, I realized that that kind of community and service mentality is not present in every type of organization you join. You have to decide for yourself that service is going to be a part of your life. It has been especially important for me now because I have two young children. I want them to embrace service and volunteering as a part of their life. So I've been thinking more and more about Ut Prosim and what that means for how I should lead my life and create service opportunities for others.
My fondest memory of my time in the department is...
My absolute fondest memory was when I was the Women In Computing Day Chair for the AWC and I managed to get the Hokie Bird to come! In general, all of my memories associated with the AWC are great ones because they involve some of my best friends doing good work and supporting one another. Those friendships are the ones that I have maintained and still lean into from time to time.
I volunteer with AnitaB.org because…
The AnitaB.org Foundation has done such great work promoting and elevating the role of Women in Computing. In particular, the Celebration of Women in Computing is *the best* conference I have ever been to. I like to volunteer as a reviewer for that conference every year because it's my one way of giving back to an organization that has done so much for me.
I’m a three-time Hokie because…
When I was debating whether I should go somewhere else for my graduate work or stay at Virginia Tech, I really couldn't imagine being as happy anywhere else. It is a special place and will always occupy a corner of my heart. I can't wait to come back for a visit!