NYU Mentorship Programme
This is a Design For America NYU project facilitated by IBM iX Mentors
As a participant of the Design Sprint project hosted by DFA and facilitated by the IBM iX mentors, our task as a team is to come up with a solution to integrate the growing tech scene in the Brooklyn Tech Triangle with the local communities. Even though NYU is playing a key role in the process of transforming Brooklyn, the resulting gentrification is pushing out many original residents who can no longer afford the increased rent and cost of living. We are going to propose solutions for the following questions:
How might we make NYU Brooklyn the centre of connection between students and the larger Metrotech area?
How might we make NYU Brooklyn a vibrant community that is integrated within the local community?
To answer these questions, we are going to first identify and create a persona through empathy mapping, create need statements through scenario mapping to stay focused, ideate, build to-be scenario mapping, and finally create storyboards and prototypes.
Role and Process
I was a part of a team of 5 students from the Engineering school with Computer Science, Integrated Digital Media, and Electrical Engineering background. We all contribute and worked closely as a team in this project to come up with solutions.
Framing the Problem
We created a persona to help us stay focus on the needs and pain points of our user to identify opportunities to create values.
Scenario Mapping & Needs Statement
Now that we have identified some of her motives, we started our scenario mapping by writing down things that Jordan does, thinks, and feels in chronological order. For example, Jordan might be considering switching jobs, so she’ll do some research, feels insecure about the big change, and doubting if it’s the right decision.
We did this because it can help us understand what are Jordan’s concerns and what are some of her needs. We then came up with 4 stages of Jordan’s process: motivations, research, engaging, and taking actions. We look into the different stages more closely and cluster notes that are more related to each other to identify 3 main clusters: money and job concerns, kid’s education, and engagement in tech.
From our findings, we were able to create needs statements for the pain points that are focused but broad enough to help us ideate and brainstorm.
Jordan needs a way to develop new skills so that she can advance in her career/field.
Jordan needs a way to develop identify opportunities so that her kids will be successful/have a bright future.
Jordan needs a way to find affordable access to classes/training so that she can take advantage of new opportunities.
With Jordan’s pain points and goals in mind, the team proceeded to ideate solutions. We tried not to worry too much about whether these solutions are feasible or reasonable or not and focused on writing anything down that came across our minds. I personally even tried to come up with random ideas that most likely won’t get approved (such as having NYU holding random events at grocery stores or develop a scavenger hunt app that allows users to collect prizes once puzzles are solved).
We wrote down our ideas on post-it notes, put them on a piece of paper, each member briefly explained his/her ideas, and then we organized similar ones into clusters and name each cluster to categorize the ideas. We came up with “Integrating with Brooklyn Community“, “Classes“, and “Local Schools“. We originally had another category called “Student Encouragement“ but later took it out because we realized that it was based on OUR need as NYU students instead of Jordan’s.
Once we had the clusters, each member examined individual ideas and voted them based on impact and feasibility using stickers (red sticker for high impact, yellow for high feasibility). We then took the sticky notes with the most dots and placed them on another piece of paper with the prioritization chart (impact on x axis and feasibility on the y axis). After some discussion and moving the sticky notes around, we finalized our decision on ideas in each of the “No Brainer“, “Big Bets“, “Utilities”, and “Save for Later“ category.
The idea that stood out in the No Brainer section is the one that matches NYU students as mentors with local high school students to help them navigate the college application process, figure out what they want to do, and assist them to achieve these goals.
We thought this idea is a great one to get started with because it does not only integrate NYU community with the local community better, it also has a huge impact on the next generation of students with clearer directions and therefore have a more positive long-term effect on the Brooklyn area transformation.
To-be Scenario Mapping
We understand that our proposed solution might be more directly beneficial to Jordan’s son instead of her, but we do believe there are ways that Jordan can participate in this process and help her along the way.
We used scenario mapping to brainstorm how Jordan feels seeing her son being a part of this programme, and what are some of the actions that she takes as a participant and observer. We then group together similar ideas, separate these groups into different categories, and put them in chronicle order. After this step, we put a timeline to the chronicle order and name each category. Since this is a mentoring partnership that’ll most likely be a long-term project, therefore we use “year“ as our time unit for project phase.
To better illustrate how our programme will be impactful, each team member create a storyboard on how Jordan’s life will be with the involvement of this mentorship programme. I focused mine on how Jordan can support her son as she sees his personal and professional growth in a longer timeline (from his high school to having kids):
Other teammates focus on different aspects of how Jordan’s life will be affected such as her focus on personal development. We then combine different parts of our storyboards together to create a more complete look on Jordan.
Here’s our final storyboard:
Jordan’s son is applying to college, but she feels like she can’t give him the most suitable advices as she’s not familiar with the current application process. Her son comes back one day telling her that NYU came to his school to tell them about this mentorship programme that matches NYU students with participating students to help guide them through application process and general future planning. Jordan thinks that this is a great programme to be on and forces her son to participate (and has some slight conflicts with him because he initially doesn’t want to).
But as time goes, her son starts to bond with his mentor over homework helps and building trust. Jordan starts to see the changes in her son’s academic performances and is really happy that there’s someone that can help her son. She also has more things to talk about with her sons, asking everything is going and offers her support. Seeing her son getting help from a mentor also gets her thinking whether there are similar mentoring programmes for her to advance in her career.
She seeks out help and finds a person at her company who’s more senior than she is and willing to help her out and give her professional advice. After being more active about her career advancement, she gets promoted! She sees how this programme not only helps her sons but also herself, she becomes an advocate and starts telling other parents about this NYU programme and encourages these parents to participate. At the same time, Jordan’s son becomes a mentor after becoming a NYU student himself because he experiences how this programme helps him and wants to give back.
Years later, Jordan’s son graduates from NYU, secures a good job, falls in love and gets married. Jordan is really grateful that she has a intimate relationship with her sons and seeing her son being content with their lives is the happiest thing for her.
Bringing This Idea to Life
Working with mentors at Design For America NYU, we have the chance of connecting with NYU’s K-12 STEM Center and Student Affair to see if this project can fit under the Poly Project NYU or if there’s a student organization that might be interested in bringing this idea to life. I’m really grateful that I have the chance to participate in this project, and will continue to work on the possibility of actually starting this mentorship programme.