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Project Bridge

Bridging Gaps: Guiding Design Students on a Seamless Career Path

MA 22/23
Mentorship, Career Guidance, Skill- Enhancement

As GenZ design graduates navigate the transition from school to the professional world, they encounter unique challenges. Our project aims to understand these challenges and develop solutions to mitigate them. Through surveys, interviews, and observational studies, we gained insights into the emotional landscape and practical difficulties faced by these graduates. Using these insights, we identified key problem areas from the perspective of the graduates themselves. This information guided the development of innovative strategies and tools, such as job-matching platforms and mentorship programs. Our ultimate goal is to empower GenZ design graduates, providing them with the necessary resources to navigate their career paths confidently and successfully.

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Our project uses a comprehensive set of research methodologies designed to generate insightful data and inform our solution development. We kick off with extensive research, delving into the existing literature, market trends, and industry insights to establish a robust knowledge foundation about GenZ design graduates' challenges. We then conduct in-depth interviews with alumni, whose firsthand experiences provide us with critical perspectives and anecdotes that quantitative data might overlook. Building on these insights, we move to concept development, crafting possible solutions that address the problems identified. These concepts undergo rigorous prototyping and testing phases. In these stages, we iteratively build tangible representations of our concepts and test them in realistic contexts. We gather feedback and make refinements, ensuring the solutions are effective, user-friendly, and indeed solve the problems they were designed to address. This blend of methodologies positions us well for delivering meaningful, well-informed, and tested solutions.


Gen-z's lifestyle and career choices

Let's start with understanding who Gen Z is.

Gen Z, born between 1997-2012, are digital natives who prioritize a seamless digital experience in services aimed at them. Besides technology, they're engaged in social causes like climate change and gender equality. Services for Gen Z should mirror ethical practices, inclusivity, and social responsibility. Gen Z's approach to health is holistic, valuing mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Economic uncertainties have made them cautious about finances, so they value transparent and value-for-money services. They cherish experiences over material possessions, hence services should create meaningful experiences.

Regarding careers, Gen Z seeks purposeful work that makes a positive impact. They value job security, financial stability, and a healthy work-life balance, appreciating flexibility and remote working options. Gen Z values continuous learning, and professional development, and prefers collaborative environments with a flat hierarchy where their voices are heard.


Through our research, we engaged in multiple conversations with design graduates to comprehend their experiences as they embarked on the task of securing employment post-graduation. These budding professionals in the field of design often face a multitude of hurdles as they transition from school to the professional world.

Let's understand a few :

  1. Lack of Experience: Many employers want to hire designers with experience, even for entry-level positions. It's a common paradox: you need a job to get experience, but you need experience to get a job. To combat this, you can work on personal projects, freelance jobs, or internships to build your portfolio and gain practical experience.
  2. Networking: Building professional relationships can be tough but is often critical in the design field. Many jobs aren't advertised publicly and are instead filled through internal referrals.
  3. High Competition: The design field is highly competitive. There are many talented designers, and it can be challenging to stand out from the crowd. To differentiate yourself, you can specialize in a particular area of design, develop a unique personal style, or gain expertise in a complementary field like coding or marketing.
  4. Maintaining a Portfolio: As a designer, your portfolio is your most critical job-hunting tool. It needs to be continually updated with your latest and best work. This can be a challenge, especially when you're juggling other responsibilities.
  5. Keeping Up with Trends and Technology: Design trends and tools are continually changing, and it can be tough to stay current. You'll need to be proactive about learning new software, techniques, and design principles.
  6. Articulating Your Process: It's not enough to create beautiful designs; you also need to explain your design thinking and process effectively. This can be difficult, especially for those who are more visually oriented.
  7. Finding the Right Fit: Each design job will have its own set of requirements, and it can be challenging to find a position that matches your skills, interests, and values. You might find yourself compromising on some aspects to gain experience or because of limited opportunities.
  8. Negotiating Salary and Benefits: As a new designer, you may find it difficult to negotiate your worth, especially when you're eager to land your first job. It's important to research industry standards in your area to ensure you're being compensated fairly.
  9. Handling Rejection: You will likely face rejection during your job hunt, and it can be challenging to maintain your motivation and confidence.
  10. Work-Life Balance: Especially when starting, there may be a tendency to overwork or become completely engrossed in the work, which may lead to burnout. Learning to maintain a healthy work-life balance from the onset is crucial.


The trajectory of a design student in search of employment unfolds through a series of stages, each presenting unique tasks and challenges.

Here's an example that illustrates the journey map of a Gen Z student in pursuit of employment.

The path to employment is often a complex one, traversing numerous stages. Let's delve into this storyboard for clearer comprehension.


How might we design an intuitive and supportive SOLUTION that effectively guides design students through the job-seeking process and helps them overcome these common challenges?

information clustering

Following our insightful conversations with design alumni, we've meticulously clustered the data. This process not only highlights the challenges and pain points encountered during job-seeking but also identifies potential areas for opportunity and improvement.


Drawing on opportunity areas, we're poised to craft solutions addressing the distinct challenges GenZ design graduates face in their job search. These solutions aim to connect graduates with meaningful work that aligns with their desire for impact, in settings that value flexibility and work-life balance. Our focus is to enhance the job search experience by promoting continuous learning, personal growth, and collaboration. We aim to alleviate economic concerns by fostering transparency and strive to link GenZ with organizations that share their ethical values and commitment to social responsibility.

Here are a few potential solutions :

  1. Design Bridge:  A virtual platform that pairs students with mentors & alumni from the design industry. It leverages AI to make accurate matches based on skills, interests, and career goals. Features include scheduled mentorship meetings, collaborative project spaces, and group networking events.
  2. Globe Navigator: A dedicated resource hub for international design students, providing guidance specific to the UK job market. This could include webinars, articles, and forums about job hunting strategies, interview techniques, CV and portfolio crafting, and more.
  3. Culture Comprehend : A series of workshops and resources to help international students understand and adapt to UK work culture. It could also offer language support, focusing on professional English and local idioms used in the workplace.
  4. Legal Ease: A section within the platform that provides expert advice and resources on legal and visa issues. This could be in the form of Q&A forums, direct consultations, or webinars.
  5. EqualiMe: A program within the platform advocating for diversity and inclusion, providing resources on rights, and procedures to report discrimination. It could also host diversity and inclusion training sessions for students and partner employers, fostering a more inclusive environment.
  6. Task-Taste-Test: The "try before you buy" concept, when applied to design students finding a job, suggests the idea of getting a real-world taste of a job or a company before committing to a full-time position. This can be achieved through various approaches like job shadowing & co-op programs. These could be partnerships between universities and companies, where students alternate between classroom study and full-time work in related jobs.

We are presently advancing through the prototyping and testing stage of our project, specifically focusing on those potential solutions anticipated to yield the highest impact.

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