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Symbiosis: Professional experience gain while attending class.

THE IDEA IS… To replace in-class theoretical problems & projects for real, modern and local ones. THAT TACKLES.... The absence of professional experience in recently graduated students and The lack of innovation of SMEs. BY..... A digital platform where local SMEs can upload projects, and University students or professors can log in, choose within the projects uploaded and work on them as part of their academic program.

Photo of Juan Pablo Castaño
22 16

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Basically, what it does….

SMEs and particular individuals have a lot of very specific needs regarding all kinds of topics. The problem is that usually they don’t have time, personal nor economic resources to fund those needs. Here is where the undergraduate students come in handy: they can fulfill the SME´s and particular individual’s needs providing high quality solutions, and they can charge a lot less than specialized companies. By attending the projects, students will gain professional experience, which is a requirement that many companies have and that can also be very helpful in order to increase the probabilities of being selected for a position in a company. Also, through Symbiosis, students can earn some extra money from a temporary job, which is an idea that they will very likely appreciate.      

 

USER EXPERIENCE


The student


Name: David
Age: 20
Profession: Student industrial Engineer
Key Characteristic: He has few spare time due to studies.




David is starting 4th semester of his career. He is a good student, and is conscious about the need of professional experience to be competitive but is confuse of how to keep up with his grades and earn experience at the same time. 






The Professor

Name: Eugenia
Age: 54
Profession: Professor of the Science Department
Key Characteristic: “I love to teach to people that loves to learn” Science professor. 
 


Eugenia has worked in the University for 20 years, she started as a teacher for passion, but after constantly repeating the same exercises and topics over and over she has grown to be bored about her profession, but is unable to change due to economic responsibilities. Among the students she is popular for being boring and demanding. 




FEEDBACKS


*The quotes have been translated from Spanish to English

Trying to follow the Design thinking Methodology, I have tried to simulate the experiences that the players would experience in the idea. For doing so I have: 
  1. Asked a professor to implement my idea of bringing real challenges as the course projects, instead of repeating the ones of the previews semesters.
  2. Observed the process of thesis projects that last semester students of industrial engineer do with their professors for local SMEs. 


I. FIRST IN-ClASS PROTOTYPE:


Scince the beginning of the semester (August 7) a professor of an elective class implemented my idea of bringing real challenges as the course project. As in past semesters the professor assign 3 groups of 6 students, each one with one project they had to work over the semester. One project with a medium size construction company ( FORSA), the other project is with the University ( Javeriana), and the third one is with a big company TOTTO.

The course is in its 6th week, and the finding are:

STUDENTS DON’T WANT TO SIMPLY FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS, THEY WANT TO BE FREE TO PROPOSE IDEAS OF THEIR OWN.
We don’t want to be the labor hand of a company, we want to have the freedom and trust of coming up with something ourselves…” Forsa group

ONE OF THE BIGGEST MOTIVATORS FOR STUDENTS IS THAT THE MANAGERS SHOW INTEREST AND HIGH EXPECTATIONS FROM THE RESULTS.
….having a successful professional coming to our presentation and hearing us out with interest and respect, that’s what I have liked the most, and that’s why I am encourage to do a great job so I would be able to demonstrate myself again…..” TOTTO´s group.

IF THERE IS NO PRESSURE OR SERIOUSNESS FROM THE COMPANY, THE PROJECT WOULD FALL TO BE SEEN BY STUDENTS AS A THEORETICAL PROBLEM AGAIN.
In FORSA's project, the company haven’t answered anything to the work of the students, resulting in lack of motivation.


STUDENTS LOVE GAMING COMPETITION BY LEVELING UP.
In the class we have worked with ClassDojo, an app that allow each of the students to create an avatar and during class if they answer correctly they get points for it. The difference is that this points are not perceived as academic points, but merely as level indicator.  “ O man! I need to review more in order to not fall back next time”.


II. THESIS PROJECTS:

In some careers, students are require to do a thesis project in order to graduate. They usually do it about a problem or project that a local SMEs is needing. But neither the company nor the student take seriously.

STUDENTS WOULD ALWAYS FIND A WAY TO ACHIEVE WHAT THEY NEED-TO, BUT WON´T COMPROMISE WITH THEIR DUTY UNLESS THEY LIKE-TO.
In some cases they just pay to someone to do it for them.
“I had to work in this thesis, I couldn’t find any other one so I just had to take it in order to graduate the upcoming summer” Maria Camila, Industrial Engineer student.

SMES PREFER TO PAY IN ORDER TO GUARANTEE A RESULT. IF THE PROJECT IS GIVEN OUT FOR FREE, THEY DON’T FEEL THEY CAN TRUST THE RESULTS, BECAUSE THERE IS NO ACTUAL COMMITMENT.
SMEs don’t take it seriously because they are getting in for free.
When there is not investment, then there is no reason for me to be worried about it” Juan Carlos, a local SME Manager. 

d


 

What are the next steps for implementing this idea?

WHAT IS NEXT? NEXT WEEK: With the help of Kedar Iyer, bring into another class the experience of working in an online challenge as a in-class project. The questions to be answered in this prototype would be: What’s the time gap that students and professor prefer in a project? One week? One month? One semester? Do students and professors find it pleasant to work by the web? How does professors and students react to the freedom of choosing a project? What do they think? Do they prefer to simply continue with the old theoretical problems? NEXT MONTH: Have a more constructed prototype and try it with different careers, such as Medicine, Architecture, Design, Software, Psychology, and others. How should the plataform be for them? Can it be a global format? Does it need to be different for each career? Are the Early adopters of laggards? How does non-industrial companies such as agencies, partnerships, schools, and others; are interested in participating? Do they see potential? NEXT SIXTH MONTHS: After building a functional prototype based on the students, companies and professors feedbacks. Start looking into the reaction of the potential partnerships such as Universities, Linked, gap jumpers and others. Correctly build the monetary model of the project, how would the industries and the Universities be charged for the participating. After that….. Marketing and execution.

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  • Completed

Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?

The main players benefit would be the graduating students (21-25), SMES and Professors of Latin America: With this idea, students would be graduation not only with the academic preparation but also with professional experience, a skill demanded by companies from national applicants. By being involve in local, real and modern projects they’ll gain more than professional experience, but by earning money from the projects they won’t have the need any longer of working half time jobs, allowing them to focus on their study and use their spare time in different activities of their choosing. Other side benefits, but still important would include a higher academic motivation when they are encourage by real and profitable challenges, professional contacts gained by interacting with local companies, passion for their doing where they are actually helping society with their studies. SMES would also be benefit from the idea, where they would have a payable professional assessment to their reach. This would increase their possibilities of surviving in a market that is threaten by the entrance of multinational companies, and would grand them the opportunity to learn and merge into an innovating mentality. The universities/institutes would also be benefit, as this idea helps them reach their native mission of forming students with the capacity of dealing and solving national problems. On the long term, the country and the society would also be benefit, where the confidence of local professionals and local education would grand the environment needed to trigger the national innovation. *The need finding and insights where made in Colombia and for Colombian culture.

How is your idea specifically increasing access to employment opportunities and pathways for young people?

In Colombia, most of graduating students have a hard time finding a full time employment with fare-wage payment, due to company’s preference of hiring an experienced candidate rather than training a smart one, therefor a student without professional experience is more likely to be overlook. Under this preference, and with the growing presence of international competition, local students have the need of graduating with professional experience in order of being competitive candidates.

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

I am new on design thinking, and the knowledge and guidance that I require as a learner is scarce in Colombia. Also, the need of a multidisciplinary team, diverse in culture and knowledge; I posted the idea with the hope that some other student or person might like joining me and help me with the divergence stage of the idea.

The idea emerged from:

  • An individual

How do you envision your idea being implemented?

  • Keen to prototype it, find partners and pursue implementation

22 comments

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Photo of Juan Pablo Castaño
Team

I will be uploading a homemade video soon.

Photo of Luisa Fernanda
Team

Juan, The video is private. Excited to see it once it's public.

Photo of Nikhil Mittal
Team

Hi Juan,

I like you idea and in fact I have started a similar initiative in my school. It looks great on paper, but there are challenges in practical implementation. to explain these issues I would start with defining stakeholders. There are 3 stakeholders in this process. First, are the students, Second are organizations and Third is your platform.

Now, to list a few issues with each stakeholder, I'll start with first one. Some times any experience is not sufficient to provide right incentive to the students. They might have concerns like, how big is the company, what industry is it in, what kind of work am I doing, what impact will my work bring? In one word, the issue is bringing "quality work".

Moving to second stakeholder, the companies. Why should company agree to participate in the program. They would have concerns over cost, time and quality. If you charge them low, students might not want to participate without money. Students might not have relevant experience, that would make it difficult to deliver quality and maintain time commitment. To conclude, issue is in "delivering quality work within time"

Lastly, you as a platform will face various issues. Major is maintaining quality so that more companies are willing to participate. The major challenge is to keep all stakeholders engaged, by adding value for both.

I think it is similar to what Ideo is doing with OpenIdeo platform. Your value addition would be through a more physical presence. I know this post might sound discouraging, but idea is not that. The idea is to bring some practical issues in picture, so that you can think upon those to refine your idea.

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