Overview

Problem

How can a mentorship program strengthen the community and help incoming students adjust to campus life? This is the prompt I chose to investigate for the 2020 Google Design Challenge. Through interviews with community leaders and collegiate students, I discovered the true value of the mentee, mentor relationship, and the common pitfalls that lead to failed mentorship initiatives. My goal was to develop a platform and mentor/mentee pairing process that:

  • Increases the probability of match duration. 
  • Facilitates relationship development through constant interaction.
  • Supports mentors with the resources necessary to focus on the mentee.
  • Holds the mentee & mentor accountable to each other
  • Delivers a holistic mentorship experience.
Solution

Group mentorship program + App

  • Matches mentee with mentor based on personal preferences, interests and AI-driven video personality assessment.
  • Facilitates event and training scheduling to increase accountability and support relationship development.

Project Outline

Prompt Breakdown + Process Overview

To kickoff, the project, I broke down the prompt to extract “how might we” questions to guide my primary and secondary research. Then, I structured my days within the double-diamond design process framework.

Research

Initial Research Brainstorm

Using the "how might we's" I extracted from the prompt, I brainstormed potential user groups and processes to investigate during the research phase.

Brainstorm Affinity Mapping

To get all my ideas out on the table, I created an affinity map and organized my questions and possible solutions by user group and process.

Secondary Trend Research

Before interviewing potential users, I investigated technological, scientific, and sociological trends in the mentorship/personality assessment space.

Scientific & Sociological
Grossman & Roads and David Dubois's fascinating research on what makes a mentorship program successful would end up having a significant impact on my solution. In their studies, they point to the importance of structured programming and consistent interaction as critical factors in the development of lasting relationships.

Tech trends
In my research, I set out to discover new ways of assessing personality using digital processes. The work currently being done in the AI-video assessment space was particularly intriguing.

Primary Research Goals

Now with a deeper understanding of mentorship programs and possible technical solutions, I established the project's primary research goals.

  • To understand the current mindset of incoming freshman and upper-level students.
  • To learn mentor program best practices and potential pitfalls from program operators.
User Interviews

In my primary research, I investigated the extremes. I recruited students from varying socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds to learn how the perceived value of mentorship may differ.

I also spoke with two mentorship program operators; my old college professor Janis Shaeffer and Theresa Gartland, the Executive Director of Operation Progress, a mentorship program for underserved youth in Watts.

Each interview followed the same format:

  • 20 min phone interview
  • Coding the transcription
  • Mapping insights
  • Constructing empathy maps

Synthesis

To organize my insights for problem diagnosis, I constructed the following diagrams and summaries.

What makes a mentor/Mentee Match Last?

Theresa Gartland was a wealth of knowledge. Together, we walked through Operation progress's mentor/mentee pairing process and discussed what attributes of the process facilitate the development of the mentee/mentor relationship.

The most interesting insight I discovered during our conversation was the importance of supporting the mentor. Not only financially but through behavioral training so that they may better support their mentee.

Why Would a Student Want to be a mentor?

To investigate how I could encourage students to be mentors, I interviewed students who had have been mentors or held a leadership position. I discovered two overarching motivations:

  • Wanting to give back to the community
  • Personal leadership development

I then spoke with Janis Shaffer, Head of the Retail Merchandising mentorship program at IU. She confirmed my findings and shared her activity and training framework to "build future leaders that train future leaders."

Problem Definition

After synthesizing my research, I redefined the problem space. Mentorship programs are great tools to strengthen the community, but the majority of mentorship programs lack the structure and support to create lasting mentee/mentor matches.

Problem Spaces

To explore potential solutions, I mapped out the opportunity spaces and highlighted the key concepts that were communicated by operators and students. Through this exercise, I was able to solidify the structural principles that would satisfy the needs of all stakeholder groups.

Ideation

To structure my creative process, I created three how might we statements, user avatars, and design principles.

How Might We's
Mentor + Mentee Discovery

How might we reinvent the mentor/mentee discovery process to increase the likely hood of match duration?

Mentor + Mentee Interaction Model

How might we create a platform that facilitates consistent mentor/mentee interaction?

Institutional Support

How might create a support system that makes resources more accessible?

User Avatars
Journey Map Ideation

I used the journey map below as a tool for ideation. Running through the exercise helped me empathize with incoming freshman and develop potential solutions to satisfy their needs.

The Big Idea

To come up with my big idea, I worked out my solutions visually and established the features of a new mentor/mentee matching process and facilitation application.

Information  Architecture

Inclusive Onboarding

My design goals for the mentee on-boarding flow were to:

  • Create an inclusive onboarding process that takes mentee's motivations into consideration.
  • Allow mentees to have a say in who their mentor.
  • Use the convention of instagram story selfies to make the interview process more casual.
Mentor Program Site Map

My design goals for the mentorship program app was to:

  • Allow mentors and mentees to easily browse collections of curated events and activities.
  • Allow mentors to schedule activities and hold everyone accountable to their commitments.
  • Make scheduling activities less of a hassle.

Low Fidelity Prototype

Mentor Program App Wireframes


Onboarding + Matching Wireframes


User Testing

Validating Concept with RAs

Before designing the high fidelity prototypes I tested my wire frames with two R.A.s.

They provided valuable insights that inspired me to make the following changes:

  • Integrate schedule + task views.
  • Add favorites navigation tab to make it easier for mentors to know what events their group is interested in doing.

FeaTure Overview

Explore Activities

Consistency is integral to building lasting and impactful relationships. Mentorship app enables mentors and mentees to easily discover events, workshops and meet-ups to deepen their relationship.