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Who are we solving for?: UNCF Career Pathways Initiative keeps users at the center of pilot design

Participants empathy mapping the needs of their students at the UNCF CPI annual convening

One of our favorite moments of the summer: design training at this year’s UNCF Career Pathways Initiative convening in Fort Lauderdale. Each of 14 universities is developing and implementing a pilot that will help students with career placement, guided by the design question: How might our institutions provide intentional and sustainable pathways to build 21st century competencies and help our students find meaningful employment in their desired career field?

During the design session, participants got to think about career pathways through the lens students, faculty, and employers. We call that Empathy Mapping, and as you can tell from the photo—it’s a contact sport! Problem Framing invites each institution to drill deeper on what problem their pilot seeks to solve (a root cause analysis drill that gives us all license to be that annoying 5-year-old asking why, why, why?) and a Concept Template, to flesh out potential ideas and then refine these into buildable concepts. As a result of the session, teams were able to better understand whom they are solving for, what problems their stakeholders face, what solutions other schools are working on, and how to iterate their solutions to be even more impactful.

Participants created empathy maps for various pilot users, pictured above is the empathy map for faculty users
Want to try out the Empathy Mapping tool for yourself? [Download it here.]

The Lab will be working with these institutions for 3 years to bring career pathways pilots to life in areas including: workforce engagement, foundational education and faculty engagement.