That people just starting off their careers can easily engage with mentors at conferences
To create a low-pressure, easy-to-use, tailored application that connects mentors and mentees
How do we make connections?
How might we increase the social validity of online connections so that people can feel more comfortable with their full self?
Conducted a series of interviews to understand online relationships and created journey maps for when those relationships become offline
People value safety in any relationship.
Conventions and events centered around a common interest bring people together.
Meeting online friends is a right-place-right-time scenario; the logistics (location, timing) have to work out.
Common interests or goals are key for lasting relationship.
How do we initiate and sustain connections?
How might we blur the lines between online/offline and facilitate initial interactions between strangers in order to create engaging, meaningful relationships?
Zapp is an app where you express interest in a person through a “zap.”
What would you want to know about person sending you a zap?
“It’s unfair if they know what I look like but I don’t know what they look like.”
“I feel like I would just get creepy guys.”
When would you use Zapp?
“Doesn’t have to be romantic.”
“Networking events and university environment.”
“I am extroverted and would want to go up to them in person. If they chatted with me through the app I would ignore them.”
Figure out what activities can start or encourage forming a relationship
And determine how it important pair-choice was
4 participants (graduate students from Keio University and Stanford), we chose pairings, pairs could not see their partner
[Hello! You have been mutually “zapped.” I am here to facilitate your initial conversations]
Group A: For the next 5 minutes please play the following game: Have one person start a word, and then the other one will finish it. For example: “SW” “EET"
Group B: You will be shown a picture. Please choose which image describes you
100% of participants: Enjoyed the experience but would want a way to filter their partners
75% of participants: Would want to use/have and thought the activity helped break the ice
However, none thought it was enough to form/sustain a relationship
“I had met her once and I had really wanted to talk with her more... through the activity I could get to see her humor. It was fun.”
We wanted to find out how people would choose their partner
And compare different degrees of facilitation
6 participants (Stanford graduate students), they chose partner by giving us their top two choices, we then matched them based on mutual preferences
Participants sat in the same area
[Hello! You have been mutually “zapped.”]
Group A: You will be shown a picture. Please choose which image describes you: (feel free to elaborate)
After a few rounds, they were given a series of thought provoking questions.
Group B: You will be shown a picture. Please choose which image describes you: (right or left but feel free to elaborate)
Please say “next” to bring up the next image
Group C: Please begin chatting
There was awkwardness in starting but also uncertainty in ending a conversation.
Games/prompts where users work towards a common goal/endpoint might inspire more interaction.
Initial interactions need a clear driver(s) of the conversation.
3rd parties can be effective in driving a conversation.
How do we initiate and sustain connections at conferences?
3 stages to attending conference:
During the conference
How to meet people/network efficiently
How to meet people if you’re introverted/shy
“I want to be on people’s radar, but I don’t want to be in people’s faces.”
How might we facilitate a low-pressure mentorship connection at conferences for people starting their careers?
Connecting Mentees and Mentors
We wanted to determine what made good matches
And the what long-term benefits resulted
8 participants (four masters students, 3 professors and one PhD student), we had all participants fill out our usability prototype. We then matched them and observed/recorded their 30 minute interaction. After which, we interviewed each participant separately.
Awkward and difficult to provide advice by mentors
Mentees asked content related questions or for situational advice
Resulted in no action items
Overall less productive
Experience described as pleasant
Mentees asked questions related to processes, mentor experiences, and opinions on future directions
Conversations resulted in action items (reach out to a specific program, following up on social media)
Overall more productive
“There are benefits to meeting people not in your field. It could lead to inspiration [... but] it is better to have a similar interest”
Developed an app mockup in Sketch
Monetary: Donation in their name to a charity or discount on conference
Social: Opportunity to meet someone interesting, make a difference, and feel good helping others
Professional: increase network, find potential future assistant/employee or collaboration opportunities as well as a chance for mutual learning
What about peer-to-peer
How to assure compatibility, quality?
Developing more prompts, such as question or meetup space suggestions
Users wanted language selection option, or experience with non-native language speakers
Issue of Demand > Supply (Mentees > Mentors)