A mentorship program building support networks across communities of color
Critical Thinking, Equity, Inclusion, Operations, Social Impact
Our team worked as researchers and strategist for Diversify by Design to understand the experience of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) high school and college students seeking to dive into the creative profession and apply the knowledge to support their creative and professional development. We identified mentorship as a key driver of success in empower BIPOC students of color, and our team proposed and operationalized an actionable mentorship program to the coalition’s Advisory Board. Our mentorship program consist of two pathways: Design Career Exploration (DCE) and Workforce Preparedness (WP). Both pathways were designed to facilitate exposure to various creative career possibilities and prepare students for job applications and interviews.
As design researchers, it was challenging to come to our current solution (that is the mentorship program), as the brief initially proposed for teams to develop a scholarship program. However, after extensive stakeholder, landscape, and organizational research, our team was able to shift our approach and successfully convince the Advisory Council to pivot away from the initial brief. Looking at work flows and team dynamics, during the beginning stages of the project, it was difficult to coordinate meetings, track work, and identify each of our roles within the team, as we were too adjusted to working as students. However, over time, we were able to develop the confidence and skills to effectively delegate work.
Our team recognized that every student’s design journey is different; and therefore, we’ve designed our mentorship program to accommodate to their unique needs. The problem we addressed in our solution is breaking down the stereotypes of design careers and the barriers of entry for BIPOC students. We addressed these problems through leveraging Diversify by Design’s professional network to support students in accordance to Diversify by Design’s Student Journey Map. Our team hopes that Diversify by Design will continue to work collaboratively with us in operationalizing and actualizing the mentorship program, and we are excited to see what is to come.