Connecting young people to services: reflections from stakeholder and user interviews

This past week, Mary Hannah, Mariangela and I delved deeper into building relationships with key stakeholders and gleaning insights from intercept interviews with users. As a recap, we started our research last quarter investigating how young adults without 4 year college degrees civically engage. We found that the channels through which young adults can access government and services are antiquated, remote, alienating and require a lot of work.

This quarter, we have decided to address this distance between working young adults and ways in which they might civically engage by taking a step back and looking at the socioeconomic vulnerability that prevents young adults from civically engaging. Many working young adults are so concerned with making ends meat that they do not have the bandwidth to make change in their communities. These young adults could be accessing services to help them find careers with growth potential that would put them in a more stable position. However, they are not. Thus, as you can read in last week’s blogpost, we are developing solutions to facilitate this possibility.

In order to build our solution, we are spending time de-risking our service through experiments. The hypotheses we tested were:

  1. If stakeholders are willing to reach out to us, that indicates enough interest on their side to affirm that our product will have buy-in. (Stakeholder hypothesis)
  2. If young adults lack awareness about programs that could be helping them get training, we can fill that void. (User hypothesis)
  3. 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. (Channel hypothesis)

Results from the stakeholder hypothesis:

After brief conversations and email exchanges, Austin-area nonprofits and government organizations that serve young people are all setting up meetings with us. There have been referrals to other organizations and, frankly, excitement that we are trying to figure out a solution to a problem that has vexed their organizations: community outreach. In total, we have 13 new partners we are building relationships with.

We heard that people are currently keeping track of the multitude of options offered to young people through meetings, bulletin boards, and Excel spreadsheets. We also heard a story that in the middle of a presentation about joining Americorps, an entire class of students surreptitiously applied through their mobile apps. However, the organization had to deny a majority because they did not actually meet their requirements (ability to travel and citizenship).

How young people can find out about job opportunities at the local library
How young people can find out about job opportunities at the local library

Our stakeholders are looking for ways to find applicants that meet minimum requirements to join their programs but spend a lot of time tabling and canvassing with little success.

Results from the user hypothesis:

After completing another round of intercept interviews, we found that young people are indeed anxious for opportunities even if they require some school, yet they are unaware. When we discussed options with young people, they opened up when we spoke about the possibility that you do not have to be ashamed that you did not get a college degree. They shared their hopes and fears and eagerly wanted to know more. We left them our business cards to get in contact with us. Alas, this did not work. (See next results paragraph.)

Results from channel hypothesis:

Young adults are not writing us emails after we give them our business cards. However, we do not know why. We are going to try several different strategies to build relationships with these young people. First, we will try sending the first message. Second, we will try through text. Third, we will intercept these young people as they are searching for jobs at the library.

Next steps:

  1. We want to do participatory research with young people to find out what they want to find out in a search of future careers as well as how they might prioritize the categories they search.
  2. We will continue to build relationships with key stakeholders so we can learn from what they have done to reach young people as well as what they would want from a recruiting service.
  3. We will iterate on our landing page. The first draft of the header can be seen below.
Header from our landing page
Header from our landing page