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Best Buy’s Best Bets: How Best Buy Teen Tech Centers Are Redesigning Postsecondary Strategies for Teens

A young woman works on a laptop in a Best Buy Teen Tech Center
The Lab is working with Best Buy to broaden its postsecondary strategy to support participants in successful career transitions and future success

Customers don’t go to Best Buy just for the latest tech. They also go for the knowledgeable employees who can provide expert service to help them find the right products and solutions that meet their needs. But what you may not know is that as part of their deep commitment to diversity, inclusion, and community efforts, they have made significant investments in the new majority learner through their network of Best Buy Teen Tech Centers.

Teen Tech Centers are safe after-school places where teens join as members and get hands-on experience with cutting-edge technology to explore their interests in programming, filmmaking, music production, and visual design, all while developing critical employability skills such as teamwork and problem solving. In addition to developing in-demand skills relevant to their individual interests, Teen Tech Center members can enhance their skills through paid internships and deepen their understanding of career and college options by connecting with mentors in the Teen Tech Centers Career Pathways program.

By the year 2025, Best Buy has committed to serving 30,000 teens and expanding from 41 to 100 Teen Tech Centers located in disinvested communities across the nation. This commitment is aimed at providing young people more access to technology and building a strong and vibrant talent pipeline for jobs of the future. Teen Tech Center members not only have a safe space to gain confidence in using technology, but they also develop 21st century skills that are transferable to any career and leave prepared with the resources they need to make informed decisions about their future career and college options.

The expansion of Career Pathways programming at Teen Tech Centers is designed to meet the individual need of each participant because each member’s career and college pathway is unique to their own lived experiences, skills, passions, and interests. Ranging in age from 12 to 19, Teen Tech Center members are facing new choices when it comes to college and their future careers. College enrollment is declining, and young people are navigating a new world with different ways to learn and all types of post-secondary options. As a result of the pandemic, more young people are learning online, considering short-term credentials, entering apprenticeships, or transitioning into the workforce. How can Teen Tech Centers innovate to meet the needs of their members who face these new challenges of a pandemic-informed learning environment and evolving skills-based workforce?

In order to design solutions to these questions, the Best Buy Social Impact team partnered with the Education Design Lab in a design sprint dedicated to the challenge: How might Best Buy broaden its postsecondary strategy to best support participants in successful career transitions and future success?

For three months, the Lab worked alongside a design team comprised of Teen Tech Center coordinators, mentors, and partners to map the journeys of members and better understand what resources they need to help prepare them for the postsecondary options that enhance their interests, passions, skills, and confidence in their career trajectory.

Through our human-centered design process, the Lab worked with the Design Team to prototype solutions that consider the role of mentors, social capital, financial resources, scholarships, and career navigation tools. During the design sprint, the team identified potential partnerships with community colleges, HBCUs, and other employers in an effort to illuminate the multiple pathways to career fulfillment for Teen Tech Center members.

We understand that no one Teen Tech Center member’s pathway to success will be the same, which is why the design challenge ensures that prototyped solutions meet the criteria of recognizing the lived experience of the member, focuses on making skills visible, and ensures that opportunities are affordable, relevant, portable, and flexible to future options. The Lab looks forward to partnering with Best Buy as it leads in developing solutions that build a diverse talent pipeline.

To learn more about Best Buy Social Impact and the Education Design Lab’s design challenge, contact Senior Education Designer Leah Moschella.