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How do meaningful mentoring relationships form?

And how do we embed that process into a platform that connects students with alumni mentors?


An edtech startup wanted to design a mobile application that connects college students with alumni mentors. To that end, my team and I decided to more fully investigate mentoring relationships and how they form.


User Research

  • Recruited 10 interviewees

  • Designed and conducted interviews in a two-person research team

  • Analyzed and synthesized data

  • Generated user insights


  • Ideated product features

  • Storyboarded features into scenarios for incorporation into prototype

Validation with Prototype

  • Conducted two rounds of prototype testing to validate findings, the results of which were used to guide final design


DESIGN RECOMMENDATION with image from prototype

Mentoring relationships do not form merely because two people happen to have similar career interests. They must also "click" with one another.

For relationships to form, similarities are important.

In addition to creating a platform that helps users find those with similar interests, we incorporated the Big Five Personality Test and the Schwartz Values Survey into the onboarding experience.


While certainly not perfect, these assessments increase the likelihood that users will enter relationships that will last for the long term.

Not all advisory engagements turn into mentoring relationships.​

Sometimes, a student may speak with someone for advice only once – and that's okay. "Mentorship" is a loaded term that adds a lot of pressure to a relationship, potentially sabotaging it before it even begins.

We made it easy for users to reach out to potential advisors. They can find, sort through, and get in touch with potential (and willing) mentors with specific questions or a general request to chat.

Mentorships are not monogamous.

People don't just have one mentor that they go to for everything. Different mentors serve different purposes, and mentees filter through contrasting opinions in order to arrive at their own decisions.

We enabled users to put together their own "Team of Advisors." These are the people that mentees have already gone to over and over again for advice. By the time that they are designated as a mentor, the relationship has already been formed. Here, they can reach out to their advisors and see different people's advice – all in one place.

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