Yurou Zeng (‘21) explains that her job as a product designer on the Internal Tools team at tech company MongoDB involves making things easier for the internal end users, while maintaining a focus on the company’s overall business goals. “I think of myself, in effect, as supporting the support team,” she says.

Zeng’s time in the Integrated Design & Media (IDM) program at Tandon showed her a lot about the importance of supporting one another. “That’s something IDM is very good at,” she says. “While we are each encouraged to do our own thing creatively, we’re given all the resources, guidance, and support we need.” 

That support became even more necessary in the midst of her undergraduate studies, when COVID-19 hit. “We needed to figure out a way to get through all of it – the isolation, the disruption – and we did very successfully,” she recalls.

Although she had been settled in New York since entering the program in 2017, Zeng was, in a sense, a long way from home and family when the pandemic began. She hails originally from the Micronesian island of Guam. 

She had become interested in graphic design while in high school and freely volunteered her services when any class or organization needed booklets or flyers; she also participated in many online design communities, and that was how she spent a lot of her free time . Still, she wanted more than the tiny U.S. territory in the Pacific could offer. “I loved traditional print, but I really wanted to explore the possibilities of technology,” she says. “My father was actually the one who recommended NYU, because he knew I would find being in a big city exciting, and it turned out that IDM was just what I was looking for.”

While here, Zeng immersed herself in everything both IDM and New York City had to offer: by networking, she found internships at ViaTouch Media, a software startup, and the creative agency Marine Lane, and she was also hired by NYU’s information technology department, where she worked her way up to lead product designer, delivering projects across the Student Affairs ecosystem, such as the NYU Safe Ride and Find My Club apps.

IDM, she points out, encourages students to think of the broader implications of their work, and for her senior project Zeng developed a mock dating app that purportedly harvested data from a user’s social media accounts and used AI to match them with a digital soulmate. In reality, the project was meant as a thought-provoking commentary on issues of privacy, anonymity, and human connection in the digital age. 

Zeng now brings that social awareness and thought to everything she works on, as well as the creativity and technical skills that were nurtured here at NYU Tandon. “I found everything I hoped to find when I left Guam for New York City,” she says.