In her own words, Mai Amit “helps [design teams] foster a deeper understanding of the user, market, and business needs.” As a Senior Design Researcher at Designit, a strategic design agency that uses human-centered, empathy-based processes to solve interdisciplinary problems, she envisions how new products can solve diverse challenges from ideation to prototyping to development.
In her role, Mai loves that she is able to look beyond just the aesthetic qualities of product design. Instead of just making things look good, Designit’s strategy involves improving function in addition to form. To start designing a solution, Mai embraces research, improvisation, and thorough collaboration with her clients to understand their needs. Working at an agency rather than an in-house department allows Mai to work with clients across different industries rather than sequester herself into one field. This context switching, an experience she was introduced to at Minerva, continues to be one of the most engaging aspects of the role. “One of my favorite things about my job is that Designit operates as an agency, which means that we work with clients from every industry,” shares Mai. “I love being able to switch contexts every few months, and so far have been involved with projects in the fields of insurance, banking, philanthropy, healthcare, finance, and food.”
Embracing new challenges and constantly adapting was a staple in Mai’s life as a student, which helped her prepare for her career in strategic design. In addition to moving to new cities every semester with her class, used the time to Mai build out her portfolio. She took on additional projects and assignments incorporating real-world design challenges such as being a project manager for innovative start-ups in Buenos Aires, to working with international organizations designing sustainable agriculture projects in northern India. For her Capstone project, Minerva’s version of a senior thesis, Mai created a publication that reimagined the reading experience and focused on cross-disciplinary knowledge acquisition, and in-text constructive discussion and citations. She designed the publication to facilitate a learning process that extends beyond the segregated academic community and reaches a variety of readers and learners. Drawing on principles of the science of learning, the publication gradually leads the reader through introductory content before addressing more complex perspectives and interpretations. Finally, the reader reaches a point where they can critically challenge the presented ideas. Unlike other works that simply affirm or deny content or perspectives, Mai’s aimed to provoke debate and elicit new perspectives from any given claim.
Mai’s experience in her Capstone process is similar to her work at Designit as she has been able to transfer a similar thought process to her projects. As part of an agency, Mai deals with open-ended challenges and often collaborates with diverse clients from industries that she has never encountered before. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions, instead, she approaches each new question as part of a complex, nuanced system.
Mai credits Minerva for learning how to ask good questions, how to explore the subtleties of a novel challenge, and how to decipher what is important to her client and their industry. Her undergraduate experience has also helped her thrive in unfamiliar settings. She notes that “in many ways, our global rotation mirrors my professional experience in an agency setting. Moving around every four months means we have to quickly adapt to a new home in a new country…In my job, the ability to learn quickly is essential.” Minerva has taught her how to learn things on the go, a necessary tool amongst a work culture that moves fast and in between industries. She also credits her undergraduate education with her ability to see the aforementioned nuances of a given situation. She notes:
“People like to hear big, bold statements that explain our lives in absolute truths. Short sentences that end with exclamation marks…Everything about my time at Minerva taught me to steer clear from these blacks and whites and develop a sense of suspicion towards anything that’s too one-sided. By moving around so often, and by having a truly diverse cohort from all over the world, Minerva taught me to dispense with the big bold statements and to be comfortable with nuance and liminality. Over time, I have worked and polished my ability to communicate intricate things to my clients. I have found that they appreciate my ability to challenge their ideas while avoiding the urge to reduce them to oversimplified tropes.”
If you were inspired by Mai's story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will enable you to change the world, apply to join Minerva today.