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Reducing the Gap Between College Degree Completion and Finding a Job

The Ujoiner Recruitment program prepares students for life after college. Through the completion of a real-world project (anything from marketing, software development, graphic design, etc.) students obtain tangible experience and develop essential career skills.

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Ujoiner has been tested a number of times. It works in providing students rich learning experiences, filling a local community organization need, and giving employers more qualified entry-level candidates who are prepared to do the work. Ujoiner is not just helping reduce the gap, it is also helping the local community by connecting nonprofits with students for real-world experience. This collaboration benefits all the players involved. Nonprofits have limited resources and through this collaboration they get to tap into creative minds and young talent to develop solutions that help with processes and development. Students get to apply what they’ve learned, develop new skills, and be better prepared for the real world.

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

This idea benefits three key players: college students, nonprofits and companies/employers. Upper level students benefit from the practical application of theoretical frameworks and experience of completing a real world project. Students have the opportunity to develop life skills and explore their interests in a particular field before entering the workforce. Nonprofits can outsource projects to students and accomplish tasks they may not otherwise have the resources for. Companies have insight into a student’s capabilities and benefit from hiring experienced candidates. For example, a group of 4 computer science students had the opportunity to consult a local nonprofit to evaluate their challenges, propose solutions through their project scope, develop a custom software solution and fill the need. Upon the completion of this project, the nonprofit was able to streamline this process, save time and focus on outreach. Two of the 4 students went on to participate in a 6-week Ruby on Rails development Ujoiner Recruitment internship and were offered full time employment. Ujoiner benefits students, the local community and potential employers.

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

Students will begin the project with limited real world experience. They are confident in the theoretical knowledge they’ve acquired, but through the project, they are tested in their ability to apply what they have learned to solve a real world challenge. As they go through the project, come across unforeseen obstacles, collaborate with team members, receive constructive feedback, adapt and adjust and overcome the challenges, their practical intelligence and confidence increases. We have had nothing but positive feedback from young people who have participated in the projects. They will share their own self-amazement, their appreciation for insight into how their respective industry operates, and walk away having gained essential life skills necessary to be successful in the workforce.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Ujoiner is in the process of working with a number of different professors from various universities. We have completed multiple pilot programs to test the Ujoiner ELMS and collaboration component. In the next phase we will continue to execute the Ujoiner experiential learning program and test the Ujoiner recruitment model. We will be working with another group of senior students and will test the real-world project-to-full-time-job-after-graduation funnel. Ujoiner is looking to partner with a company that recruits developers and would like to participate in our Recruitment pilot that will focus on developing these students to meet specific developer types.

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

We would love feedback from the community to help us better serve our target demographic: students, nonprofits and companies. From students, we welcome feedback on the experiential learning project model and we would specially like to hear what components are not suitable and/or if we are missing crucial career development support. From the nonprofit community, we would also like to hear about our project matching, the onboarding process, and the Ujoiner ELMS tool and how it fulfills its role of facilitating the project collaboration. From companies and recruiters, we would want to get more information on the specifics of what they are looking for, we would like for them to asses our graduating candidates and give us feedback on the development and training they’ve received and how this addresses or doesn’t address their needs.

The idea emerged from:

  • A group brainstorm

How do you envision your idea being implemented?

  • Keen to be involved in prototyping but need partners at some stage

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Meena Kadri

Sounds like you're doing fascinating work over at Ujoiner. You mention that it's been tested a number of times. What kinds of obstacles have you encountered along the way and what have you learnt from these? We're sure folks here would love to learn more...