Daniela Widdis '16 is a technical program manager in Seattle – a career she pursued after studying art history at Brandeis.

While that might seem a non-compatible fusion of the left and right brain, Widdis – who also minored in computer science – said blending the two disciplines is the secret of her success.

“Instead of going down the computer science path or having one narrow specialization, I came away with richer perspectives,” said Widdis. “I am all about making and creating. Now, in the tech world, I’m able to be a creator and part of a contemporary dialogue by designing a product and helping carry it through to implementation.”

Brandeis students often mix different areas of study in interesting ways, and Widdis was no exception. She also took classes in psychology, journalism, political theory and economics.

But IBM was particularly impressed with Widdis’ background in art, and hired her as a software engineer shortly after she graduated from Brandeis. 

Last year, she became a program manager at Hyperproof, a cloud-based startup that creates digital tools for organizations to manage their compliance operations.

But how does someone make the jump from one art form to another?

Widdis, who designs, tests and helps implement new products, said art isn’t only about working in galleries and museums or creating works from physical materials.

“Art led me to roles in which I can have way more influence on how a product grows, what it looks like, what features it has and how we’re building it,” she said. “I’m the bridge between coding and working with engineers to design something that fits our business needs. It is very empowering.”

“I am participating in the full life cycle of a product – starting from scratch. I think in art history, you talk about the languages that artists create. I look at user experience design and interfaces the same way. You’re building a language of interaction.”

Does Widdis have any insight for future Brandeis students who want to go into tech?

“The tech-world is growing and there’s more need for user empathy and people who understand visual languages,” she said. “There’s lots of room to explore.”