05/05/2016 By Douglas Esser Interning is a typical step for a graduating student to start a career. But what if you interview for an internship and the company says, “We want you for a full-time position instead.” That happened to two University of Washington Bothell students graduating this spring with degrees in interactive media design (IMD). Lena Tu and Anna Nguyen applied for internships at Avanade, a global digital services company based in Seattle that works in partnership with Accenture and Microsoft. A few days after an intensive interview, Avanade waived the internship and offered them both permanent jobs as business analysts in the company’s new design studio. “They said they were impressed with us and they weren’t expecting this, but they got a recommendation to offer us full-time employment,” Tu said. “Oh yeah, we’ve accepted.” They start July 11. The experience of discussing and defending their class projects with peers prepared them for the demanding interview, says Nguyen. “I was sitting there and thought, ‘I can answer these questions, yes!’” she says. The IMD program is in its third year. The current cohort is the second graduating class, says Jason Pace, the first director of the practicum, where students complete their hands-on work. IMD students create media products such as videos, artwork and web-based and platform-specific computer applications. The two-year curriculum blends academic theory, human-centered design and methods for gathering and analyzing metrics. Tyler Fox, the IMD design studio director, taught the students this year through their capstone projects. He noticed how Tu and Nguyen both connect to outside trends. “Both of them wrote about what they were reading in regard to design and research, and were able to link what they see in the world outside back to their projects directly,” Fox said. A third IMD student, Laura Valiente, has already made the jump to the outside world, by interning at Nordstrom as a software engineer through her final year. She’s been hired full time, starting June 24 at the Seattle-based fashion retailer. Photo: left to right, Laura Valiente, Lena Tu, Anna Nguyen. (Marc Studer photo) “Here too, we find a motivated student working not just on her project, but reaching out into the world for new knowledge, new practices and experiences and folding them into herself,” says Fox. Like most technology-related fields, interactive media design is dominated by men, Pace says. “As women of color, Laura, Lena, and Anna are part of a new wave of young designers bringing fresh perspectives and unique lived experiences to companies that have recently begun embracing inclusive design and universal design,” Pace says. Interactive media design is a hybrid major shared between the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. “All of our classmates are going off in different areas of expertise and interests. We can take it so many ways,” Nguyen says. Valiente agrees her time at UW Bothell gave her flexible talents. “IMD make us multi-disciplinary, multi-skilled, multi-taskers in all kinds of situations for design. I think we’re set up for success,” she says. Tu, Nguyen and Valiente all count Pace, who also directs the Digital Future Lab, as a mentor. The students also credit lecturers Fox and Mark Kochanski as major influences. These students experienced the cross-discipline, connected and community-engaged learning for which UW Bothell prides itself, Pace says. “It would appear as if industry recognizes the value,” he says.