Amidst the automation and rapid re-skilling requirements for skilled labor, the future of workforce development in the context of education is being reimagined. The time and financial investment into traditional education pathways is not accessible for everyone. Given these factors, how might we help students and workers find alternative ways of establishing meaningful and stable career paths?
On Track is a mobile app that is a digital platform for finding and connecting with career mentors and provides curated resources for professional development.
HOW IT WORKS
Connecting with a Mentor
After the users sign up with their email info or with their Linkedin account, they can access a directory of available mentors that can be filtered based on industry, location, and years of experience. Each mentee can have up to three mentors at a time and initiate the process through introducing themselves through the app’s messaging system.
App Resources and Review Process
The app also features tips and guides for professional development in different categories, such as Networking, Career Planning, and Negotiation. The content is curated and there is the option for the user to turn on the conversation tracker option so that the app can better aggregate customized resources. The user also receives daily tips, and at the end of each month, both mentors and mentees are required to review each other and decide if they want to continue the relationship moving forward.
Making mentorship accessible for anyone, anytime, anywhere.
We interviewed 15 people total, from various professional backgrounds. Some of the interviewees were recent graduates with bachelors and graduate degrees. Others were self-taught in their profession or pursuing faster non-degree routes to enter a new career path. Of the 15, we also interview 6 career development experts, ranging from researchers on the subject matter to professionals working in professional development for formerly incarcerated and homeless folks.
To better frame our research, we created a spectrum between traditional and non-traditional forms of education based on our interviewees’ backgrounds. We identified traditional education as “as teacher-centered delivery of instruction to classes of students who are the receivers of information” and uses the diploma and standardized testing system as metrics of success.
From our user and expert interviews and in-depth secondary research, we held the hypothesis that there is a soft skills gap that is not fulfilled by any existing education system but can be supplemented with mentorship.
Main Insights from User Research Synthesis
1. Learning soft skills can feel like a game of chance.
2. Building a network is mainly about having a sense of community—not just getting a job.
3. There is a sense of social anxiety for the individual when it comes to digital networking.
How Might We…
1. Give students and workers more control over learning soft skills?
2. We help students and workers build a network that more about community than job-acquisition?
3. We reduce the social anxieties of digital networking?
We believe that everyone should have access to mentorship and professional development.
Partnerships with career-development organizations will be crucial to user outreach, so that the app is not utilized by a self-selecting audience.
& USER TESTING
Over the course of 2 weeks, we did 3 rounds of prototyping and two rounds of user testing with 12 participants.
Design desktop version of the app.
Develop more compelling motivations for mentors to actively participate in the program.