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Design Researcher

In a nutshell:

Design Thinking begins with deep empathy and understanding of the needs and motivations of people. IDEO Cambridge is in search of a Sr. Design Researcher who has a knack for immersive storytelling. By this we mean, someone who has worked with and uses media like video, audio, VR, AR, emerging technology, and/or beyond to tell compelling and inspirational human-centered stories. Overall we hope to find someone who  is passionately curious, radically inspired by people, surfaces great insights, and collaborates on a design team to create human-centered products services, and stories.

We find that there is no one background that begets a great Design Researcher. Instead, we’re open to a diverse array of past experiences–from journalists to anthropologists, filmmakers to activists, musicians to psychologists, you name it. The most important qualification is that you’ve had professional experience connecting with people deeply, surfacing crisp insights, and creating  strategic storytelling assets based on your learnings.

Why is this role important for IDEO’s work?

Great design connects deeply to human needs, and design researchers craft the way in which we go about uncovering and sharing these needs with the world. Design Researchers lead clients and teams through a journey of human-centered research and inspiration to discover, interpret, and communicate insights and opportunities in an inspiring way. They bring to life the voice of the people we’re designing for.

Once here you will:

  • Work on projects as a part of a multidisciplinary team often made up of designers, engineers, brand and business strategists, and other hybrid experts. You all are in it together.
  • Design and structure the human-centered research portion of a project by planning for and then leading internal and client teams through fieldwork, findings analysis and insights synthesis.
  • Collaborate with teammates to translate insights into powerful stories and strategic designs for innovative products, services, spaces, interactions and experiences.
  • Travel to diverse regions inside or outside the U.S. to explore diverse human behavior and develop a deep understanding of the intersection between people, business and technology.
  • Build and create new ways of telling human-centered stories using video, audio, or other immersive storytelling tools
  • Bring your own unique perspective to our design team.

What does IDEO offer you?

IDEO is a place unlike any other. It’s a place where you can solve diverse, complex challenges for our clients, alongside thoughtful, intelligent individuals who lead with curiosity, empathy, and optimism. Sure we work hard, but we also intentionally craft moments that allow our community to pause, create, and connect. We encourage our community to bring their whole selves to work, respect the need for work-life balance, and allow for autonomy in the design process and your career.

Relevant experience and mindset:

  • 4+ years of qualitative research experience in all stages of the process (scoping a research process, leading fieldwork, conducting in-context interviews, performing desk research, synthesizing inputs, articulating clear insights and directions as a result of the research etc.)
  • Experience translating research insights into tangible new products, services, tools, or offerings (connecting research to design)
  • 2-5 years experience in storytelling methods such as visual, video, or audio  
  • Strong curiosity with new tools, technologies and methods that push learning in new directions, reach users in new ways, inspire the design team and content, or compliment depth of insight with scale
  • Exceptional communication and storytelling skills: fluency and confidence in inspiring teammates and clients with user-driven rationale; experience in not only telling stories but also translating insights into actionable ideas/design. Comfort in using data to find and/or support a story is a plus.
  • Ability to work flexibly and efficiently; exercising a balance between research rigor, extreme organizational skills, and leaving space for intuition and inspiration.
  • High comfort level in working within a self-directed culture and navigating ambiguity.
  • Openness to critique from other disciplines, curiosity to learn from a spectrum of perspectives, and experience or strong interest in collaborating closely with creative designers
  • Experience working within a variety of industries and/or background in organizational design, startups, and/or brand strategy a plus.

Question for you:

If you identify with our values, are excited about great design, and would like to contribute to our studio, we would love to see your resume, cover letter, and portfolio. Your portfolio should include 3 examples of projects you’ve worked on in a research capacity. We recommend choosing projects that illustrate your breadth of qualitative research skills in a variety of scenarios. We know that you are a researcher, and perhaps not a graphic artist, but use this portfolio as a way to showcase your communication skills, both visual and written. In your description of 3 example projects, include details on:

  • The challenge you were trying to solve
  • The industry you were working in
  • Your specific role on the project
  • The research approach and qualitative methods you used
  • Some of your key learnings, or insights
  • The impact of your research findings on design or business strategies.

We know that many of you are coming from fields outside of design. That’s excellent! We think of design very broadly. So, include examples of products, services, programs, businesses or organizations, or experiences to which your research has contributed. The portfolios that are most successful during the initial screening process are those that emphasize how you used your research skills to create something new as opposed to evaluating or understanding something that already exists.

Application instructions:

We’d love to hear from you. Please apply with a resume, cover letter (addressing the "Question for you" above), and a portfolio or relevant work samples. When submitting your work samples/portfolio, please indicate your specific role(s) and contributions for each project presented.

Equal Opportunity Employer

IDEO is an equal opportunity employer; applicants are considered for all roles without regard to race, color, religious creed, sex, national origin, citizenship status, age, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, marital, parental, veteran or military status, unfavorable military discharge, or any other status protected by applicable federal, state or local law.

Apply now
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