Citi Works Mentor
How to recruit top professors and professionals within the technology fields to come to be a part of the Citi Works training program
By Leer Goldeshmidet, Marilyn Maimon, and Xandra Addari
We started off this project by thinking about how might we connect and educate people from underserved communities with the tech skills training, quality job placement, and networks they need to grow and succeed? Citi Works offers a no-risk pathway to high-demand careers in technology for all students and graduates. We want to help bridge the gap by providing esteemed, qualified professors at no cost to the students, leading up to a guaranteed job in the tech industry. That's how we landed on our research question how might we onboard top professors to be a part of this Citi works initiative.
Through our research, we realized that people want access to the best teacher and network. Top universities have both of those things therefore, it led us to realize we wanted to focus on how we could recruit top professors from these schools to come and be a part of the Citi Works initiative. Our process included coming up with a structured mentorship program, creating a list of categorized, potential mentors for the program, and having an outreach strategy to incentivize these potential mentors to be a part of it.
First, we decided that the mentorship program will be broken down into a 15-week program. Every 5 weeks a new professor will come in as the guest speaker for that week. Students will have the opportunity to connect and network with a top professor from a leading university. Second, we created a list of the top 50 universities in the country that are known for the best tech programs, and teachers. We utilized a proactive recruitment method to pick them and selected them against our criteria that are adjustable depending on the program’s needs.
From there, we sought out to categorize the potential mentors into specific groups. A question that popped up during the research was how does our database differ from anyone else out there creating a list of professors? That was where our big concept came in. Creating a filtration system based on specific criteria that each professor has to meet. Our database of proactively selected candidates sets us apart from those already out there in that it is particularly geared towards recruiting professors to make sure they meet our criteria. Our criteria are categorized by professor’s research interests, background and education, previous philanthropic work, and personal involvement, as well as that of their universities, with charitable causes and associations.
Lastly, we came up with different outreach strategies to market to potential mentors. A virtual speed networking event where mentors are given the opportunity to connect with faculty from top universities, as well as senior tech professionals. Through this even they are able to explore potential research collaborations, discuss emerging tech trends, or simply form new business contacts. For our second outreach strategy, we decided that the city will be recognizing excellence and honoring our mentors for their outstanding dedication and contributions to the mission of the Citi works training program. It will be sponsored by Citi Foundation and names will be highlighted on the Citi Works premises in the form of a recognition wall. Along with this, mentors will be entered into a draw that can land them the opportunity to win a $3,000-dollar grant to further the mentors' professional research funded by the Citi Foundation.
The biggest challenge we had to overcome was the fact that this entire semester and project was done remotely. Being remote was challenging because we weren’t in an in-person classroom setting that allowed us to engage in full force with our peers and professor. A major factor for my group and I was the fact that we were all in different time zones making meeting times and working together through zoom even more challenging. However, making it work and overcoming these challenges is what led us to our process and prototypes. It gave us an upper hand when it came to our prototype because it was creating our master excel list with potential professors and it was all done virtually.
First off, our prototype master list of potential professors was created. The list was broken down into four different tabs. The first one being the master list including the names of over 100 professors in universities that are technology-focused. The second tab was called the philanthropic list. Only 45 names perfectly matched that list based on our initial criteria. The following tabs were lists of the universities broken down by geography and the professor’s specialty and field. We expect that our prototyped methodology of compiling and cross-referencing can be further built into a robust database and filtration system. Once the list was compiled, we started to prototype test our outreach strategy with a sample group of professors. We created a mock email that we sent out to professors highlighting what they would be doing in the program and what they would receive in return. These professors were helping us to further improve our strategy and giving us feedback on how to make it as successful as possible. Based on our few initial conversations and feedback from these professors, we are positive that a continued focus on this would lead to very successful results of mentor participation.
Outreach Strategy, Technology, Mentorship, Networking, Prototyping