Testing Our Problem-Solution Fit: Do young adults want a service to help them find a stable job?

Last quarter, we (Adam, Mary Hannah, and Mariangela) investigated how young adults who do not attend college do or don’t civically engage in Austin. Last week, we ideated possible solutions to help them become more engaged. After evaluating our ideas, we all recognized that until these young adults had stable and secure jobs, civic engagement seemed out of reach. Thus, we determined that we will develop a solution that will encourage more young adults who do not attend college to secure mid-level jobs. In this post, we will describe:

  • Our hypotheses: what were the biggest risks we needed to test in order to determine problem-solution fit
  • How we tested and what we learned
  • What we will do next week

Our hypotheses and what we learned:

This week, we hypothesized the following statements and decided to test them because they were our biggest risks.

  1. If there are at least 50 training and certificate programs in Austin, then designing a service to connect young adults to these programs will ultimately support their upward mobility.  
  2. If there are channels through which we can intercept young adults, then we will be able to perform experiments to determine interest in our service.
  3. If working young adults want career advice that is not delivered face-to-face, then we will be able to design an interface to support their continued success.
  4. If current solutions are not sufficient, then we will be able to innovate a new service that will fulfill a need.

How we tested and what we learned:

Of all the hypotheses we needed to test, we realized the riskiest were hypotheses two and three. How could we find and attract young people to use our service? So, our first attempt at doing this was to design a poster and intercept people around the city to get their reactions. Below you see our first poster.

Pasted image at 2018_01_20 08_49 PM
Our first poster

From these initial tests we learned that our poster seemed like an infomercial. Though the young people we spoke to liked the idea of getting support to find a job, the poster itself did not inspire confidence. Thus, we decided to get a better sense of what copy would inspire confidence and clearly communicate our future service.

Next, we designed four lo-fi posters to get feedback from students on the ACC campus. Instead of making too lofty a goal like “find a better job,” we shifted to focus on the fact that you don’t need a college degree to get a job.

One of four posters
One of four posters

From this we learned that though students recognized the value of our message (no need for a college degree), they got lost in what we were offering.

So we decided to focus on what words young people might use when describing their current situation and what they aspire for. We designed a card sort activity in which our participants ranked their current barriers and motivations.

A participant doing our card sort activity
A participant doing our card sort activity

From this we learned that young people do not want to feel stuck and that they need to have opportunity for growth. One local laundromat owner also affirmed that many young people change their perspective on life once they have a family. He was a young father and felt the need to care for his family.

Finally, we settled on two posters, each at a different level of fidelity. Below is the higher fidelity poster.

A final draft of our poster
A final draft of our poster

Simultaneously, we tested hypotheses one and four. Though we initially spent time scrubbing the internet searching for all the training programs in the city, we found a much greater resource: Texas Workforce Solutions, the company that manages unemployment benefits in Texas.

We also heard from our participants a desire for a job fair that featured employers who do not require a college degree. This led us down a path that explored how the city is currently supporting unemployed residents as well as other innovative solutions that exist in other cities. We immersed ourselves in what it is like to be receiving unemployment benefits, learned from people who work at the Texas Workforce Solutions, and explored their website. We also discovered a city plan to get 2,000 economically disadvantaged residents of Austin into middle skills jobs by 2021.

We learned that there are services for young people to get more stable jobs, and that currently, they are not accessing those services.

Next week:

We are going to launch a landing page in order to hone in on our unique value proposition. We will go deeper in our research to determine the most important part of a young person’s journey to finding a stable job in Austin. We will also develop relationships with key stakeholders in the problem space and investigate what came of the Texas Workforce plan to move economically disadvantaged residents into middle skills jobs.