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Student Spotlight

Madeline Trumbauer 

Academic year:
Class of 2023

Major track:
Decision and Cognition

Interest in Cognitive Science:
Madeline has been trying to figure out how best to live her life. “I’m hyperaware of how precious each individual’s time is on earth,” Madeline says. “And I question cultural norms that could be preventing me from living my best life, especially because they might be completely outdated in a couple decades.” Knowing she wanted to devise an ethics of her own, Madeline turned to decision-theory and philosophy to craft her values in her adolescence. Madeline was attracted to the interdisciplinary nature of Cognitive Science and how it could be applied to whatever career role she wanted to pursue.After learning about the importance of considering others, Madeline—taking a utilitarian approach to her career-decision—wanted a career that would affect the most number of people and produce the most good, so she chose Digital User Experience design, which is the front-end construction of digital platforms. “I’m interested in helping improve online interfaces because of the daily frustrations I can eliminate for the average person with better user experiences. So many in-person systems can be more efficiently conducted remotely, and I want to help our world transition to using digital technologies.”With support from the University of Michigan Career Development Office, Madeline took her passion for UX to the professional world in a summer internship with PNC Bank on the Mobile Retail Banking Team. In this role, she learned about how banking can be digitized, and how to implement solutions from the user’s perspective. “In a Product Manager role, I worked closely with designers to augment features in the app. In my team, we iterated through each phase of the design process to produce user-research informed solutions. We researched, brainstormed a project idea, built personas for our target user, then journey-mapped the desirable experience we wanted them to have, and began sketching the interface as well as the possible steps available to the user with user flow diagrams. It was so amazing when we finally had a working prototype, because so much thought had gone into it beforehand to ensure every decision had a justification rooted in helping the user. It was an impactful experience that has driven my passion for UX!"

Beyond her academic studies, Madeline enjoys reading, running, and writing. In fact, she says, “I love to learn! Being in the information age, there’s so many valuable resources available. I love TedTalks, Coursea, and any free online books I can get my hands on. I’m so happy to be absorbing all the work of great thinkers of all time.”

Post-Graduation Plans:
After graduation, Madeline will be looking for a job in User Experience. She hopes to move to the West Coast because it’s always been her dream to live by the ocean. A cute puppy would be part of the dream, too! “I am so excited to pair my understanding of human psychology with my technical knowledge of web interfaces to build digital systems that support the people using them,” says Madeline.