Core Connect gives tech professionals the sustainable and dynamic resource of mentorship with core values. Core values guide employees on how to prioritize when making challenging decisions, navigating various relationships with less conflict and more collaboration, while giving greater meaning and results in their work. Core values also serve as a map for companies on how employees and leadership can better solve problems and differentiate themselves from competitors. By knowing each other’s core values a mentee can match with an experienced professional mentor for more meaningful and resonant answers based on their real life experiences.
Companies prioritizing core values had a 175% increase in value over a 12-year period
63% of consumers say they want to buy products and services from companies that have a purpose that resonates with their values and belief systems
In the rapidly changing tech industry, users have specific and personalized problems that often can’t be solved in community boards, courses, and even the most up to date resources. Aspirants are moving away from a variety of industries and backgrounds and into tech creating unique and diverse needs for learning and development. Both professionals and aspirants need refined resources to advance in their careers because the current offerings lack meaningful results and reliability.
User Pain Points
After several interviews and surveys completed, we learned the following:
- 66% of users experience hindrance in personal growth when working in a team with unaligned core values.
- Majority of users have trouble efficiently finding a mentor online. First priority in finding a mentor is their professional background and second is their personality.
- If there is no indicator, most users question if mentors are still active on the platform. Many users experienced booking a session and never hearing from the mentor and/or the mentor not showing up to their scheduled meeting.
- Mentors leave mentorship platforms because they feel the connection with the mentee is lacking fulfillment and meaning. Mentors also feel mentees are solely looking for FAANG employees with the most years of experience and dehumanizes the experience. Decreased mentor engagement leads to a cyclical effect of both mentors and mentees dropping from the platform.
The greater problem is employee dissatisfaction and high turnover rates:
- The 2023 tech employee turnover rate is 18.3% - the highest turnover rate of any sector
- Resignation rates are higher for senior-level employees compared to mid-level
- Mentorship is the #1 focus area for L&D programs in 2023
- Of those with a mentor, 97% say they are valuable, yet only 37% of professionals have a mentor meaning there is a large untapped market.
Through a more symbiotic mentor and mentee relationship, employees can find meaningful, empathetic, and truly personalized actionable answers from real life successes to their questions improving work performance, retention, and satisfaction.
- More efficiency and enjoyment searching and matching experience
- Able to meet clearer expectations
- More meaningful and productive sessions
- Build a network of like-minded professionals
- Practice soft-skills for communicating with a challenging coworker by matching based on their core values
Core Connect’s key features:
- Core value test: a quick test that users can take before starting the mentor search. Although 77% of users noted that they know their top professional core values, we wanted to encourage the remaining 23% to engage with the core values filter. Additionally, Values Institute states that there is a chance of one’s core values changing depending on their life stage and age.
- Core values as a filter, along with others: with 66% of users having experienced hindrance in their personal growth when working in a team with unaligned core values, we found it significant to allow users to search mentors using aligned core values. Users also expressed their need for more specific filters to make the ‘mentor-searching’ process more efficient. Other specific filters include availability, industry, discipline, experience level, and company size.
- Specific information on mentor profiles: with users’ priority when choosing a mentor being professional background and what mentor is like, it made sense to add mentors’ past work experiences, core values, and what led them to mentoring. Category tags of what mentors can help with were also added to assist users in choosing a mentor.
- Mentor’s last active time indicator: given that most users want some kind of indicator that shows the mentor is indeed active on the website, we added a section showing when the mentor was last active on the platform. This feature provides some reassurance and guidance to who the user wants to book a session with.
Lofi & Hifi Mockups
Iterative Design Learnings
After usability testing, we learned:
- Users find our 3 main tasks’ flows (below) to be intuitive & straightforward
- Taking the core value test
- Filtering to find a mentor
- Selecting a date and submitting a mentorship request form
- Users like the clean design overall
- Other feedback:
- It would be helpful to see mentor’s portfolio/website
- It’s not very clear that the filter options are like checkboxes, where multiple things can be selected at once
- It would be easier to select if Core value filter dropdown is bigger
Where is it hosted?
- Netlify - a free hosting website which allows for custom subdomain and uncustomized second-level domain. In addition, it integrates into github easily and auto updates when files are changed on github.
What is your tech stack?
- React - front end
- JSX - files
- Tailwind CSS - inline styling
- MUI - specific styling for calendar
- Vite - frontend tooling
- Figma - design
High level journey of a request?
- The request is usually made by our project manager, designed by our designer on Figma. The idea is added to our Trello where it is moved from the backlog to the in progress by the developers, until one or both developers are able to complete it then it is updated on our github by moving it to the main branch, which updates our website. Our Trello is then updated to show completion. Our designer reviews the updated work and gives feedback. The feedback usually requires changes and updates. The cycle repeats until the designer and product manager sign off on it.
What was the hardest part of development?
- Managing states in the core value test was challenging. But filtering mentors on the homepage is proving more of a challenge since we are using 5 different elements to filter one data set.
Does your app have any scaling issues?
- Not necessarily, we tried to code with keeping in mind features we would like to add on and leaving the option open for them. One of the biggest things we would like to add is a backend for storing user/mentor data
What are some key takeaways?
- Taking the time to map out the basic logic for a given page/component before writing it all out can save a lot of time later on in going back and debugging
- Understanding proper source control is very valuable for working on team
- Consistent and detailed communication between developers is very important to make sure they work together and not overwrite each other in programming
- Variable naming and proper documentation is really important to making readable/debugable code
Beyond the time restrictions of this MVP features we would like to add include:
Focusing on building a strong mentor network we would:
- Convert existing successful tech mentors and create solutions to their problems
- Approach mentors who left existing platforms since their contact info is commonly on their profiles
- Design messaging that empathizes with the reasons they joined/left
- A/B test cold/warm emails based on industry, role, and experience
- Create networking spaces for mentors to find community and advance their mentoring skills
In anticipation of competitors adding a core value feature, we would ongoingly establish relationships and interviews of top users in order to prioritize features that further improve their experience by focusing on:
- Growth on NPS
- New Users
- New net MMR
- Scheduled Meetings
- 5 Star Mentor Reviews
Based on competitor data we would tailor content, advertising, and services to align with the demographic and age distribution of this target audience, critically emphasizing cultural understanding and resonance including:
- More males than females
- Predominantly aged 25-34
- Incentivize users to create content and promote on LinkedIn and YouTube
Competitors utilize a variety of fee-based models:
- Subscription with Optional Pay-Per-Service (as specified by the mentor)
- Funded by partnered software subscriptions
- Funded by investors
We would implement a freemium model where users pay for a subscription after a free trial. To increase our experienced mentor base and engagement we would give the option for mentors to set an additional fee.
To establish regular streams of revenue we would sign contracts with companies that have existing L&D budgets and find them by:
- Exhibiting and/or presenting at tech conferences
- Approach HR Managers and other decision makers
- Design messaging the solves their key pain points based on Glassdoor reviews and recent articles
- A/B test cold/warm emails based on company size and competitors
- Prioritizing companies that have defined their core values
Other high resolution images
Product Manager Learnings:
I discovered that it is much more fulfilling to solve the pain points of key stakeholders, experienced mentors, versus duplicating what’s already in the market.
I learned that mentorship really does provide direction and answers both through my research as well as my direct experience with mentors.
I gained value in CoLab’s communities including my team, fellow PMs in the cohort, and through the community at large.
I learned how to communicate user-centric design decisions throughout a product cycle, and that this allows the team to be on the same page with project priorities
I learned how to utilize visual narratives including user persona, user flows, and sitemap to share research findings and project’s goals with the team
I learned that collaboration is entering conversations with willingness to learn from the other person while sharing my own expertise.
Learning how to collaborate with your code so that when you are merging to the main branch there is not too much conflict to correct
Making sure everything is connected inside the code so that it is scalable and that it makes the UX seamless.
One thing I think as a hindsight is declaring objects as a group rather than winging it and having to add more as we move on.
Working on a team requires consistent, specific and thorough communication
Filtering in is much more challenging than I anticipated
Many problems in programming on a team can be prevented or reduced by delegation and proper planning ahead
Use good variable names and document code well for debugging other developer
Full Team Learning
We learned the benefits of working in a team and leaning on each other’s expertise in order to optimize the outcome of our MVP. We each had differing working schedules and personal inhibitors come up during the 8-weeks but were able to still meet each week’s submissions because of open dialogue, finding solutions for the few small communication gaps that came up, and came up with new collaboration tools that weren’t provided for working asynchronously.
We learned that we could navigate unknowns and road bumps, like not knowing our midpoint demo date and the many unexpected bugs in our site, by being mentally prepared for longer hours and adapting quickly for fast-approaching deadlines and by finding camaraderie in one another.
Because we each come from different backgrounds, we learned new ways to communicate effectively and efficiently and found that aligning on key requirements and goals to be incredibly helpful.