Nov 2020 - Feb 2021
LinkedIn for Students
Case Study
Creating a space for young professionals on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the only social media platform I feel at home on. It's also the social media platform that takes the biggest toll on my mental health. It wasn't a surprise when I found out that my student friends on LinkedIn feel similarly. Students are the next generation of LinkedIn users, but the negative effects of the platform has young professional fleeing for more student-friendly tools like Handshake and even creating their own (*cough* Ladder *cough*). Me and and my aspiring product manager friends decided to dive deeper into why students are turning away from the platform — and explore how we can bring them back.

As the sole product designer on the team, I led the project through the design process, conducted research, created all design artifacts, and iterated (and iterated and iterated) based on feedback.

Upon advertising our idea, our team was invited to discuss next steps for LinkedIn for Students with LinkedIn's Chief Product Officer, Tomer Cohen.
Timeframe.

12 weeks

Team.

Shobha Dasari, Milap Patel, Khushi Selat

Skills.

Product Design

Tools.

Figma, Google Forms, Paper & Pen

Problem.
The LinkedIn student experience is currently confusing, overwhelming, stressful, and lacks reflective components. For students, the cost is super disproportionate to the gains.
Solution.
Equip the top professional platform with job search tools and mentorship capabilities and enable students to build a supportive community
Initial Problem Discovery.
Preliminary Research
Before diving full-force into this project, we wanted to verify that our problem was actually a problem. We sent out a survey to students from our personal networks and various online communities to find patterns of wants and needs of university students with regards to LinkedIn.
User Survey (N = 195)
Our survey yielded honest answers about how students across different schools, majors, and demographics use and feel about LinkedIn. I originally thought . My mind changed after . Our user research showed that users knew how to navigate the customization of a drink and how their new drink would taste without a hitch. The real problem was
List of survey questions
Screenshots of survey questions
Defining the Problem
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How might we empower college students as they transition into the professional landscape?
Research.
Diving Deeper
Learning from students
Shobha and Khushi interviewed 10 college students to collect qualitative information about the student experience. We wanted to determine what college students value about LinkedIn, and to gauge what needs could be met with student-oriented features.

Some of our questions included:
❔ Describe LinkedIn in 3 words.
❔ If LinkedIn disappeared how disappointed would you be on a scale of 1-5?
❔ Why do you use LinkedIn? Does LinkedIn successfully help you achieve that?
❔ What do you want to see on your feed when using LinkedIn? 
Affinity Mapping
From the interview sessions and initial survey, we developed four types of notes based on related answers. After creating each note, we began sorting the notes into columns based on pain points. While grouping problems we uncovered some common themes, such as a great desire for mentorship and LinkedIn's unintentional effects on student mental health.
Learning from the experts
We coordinated with employees at LinkedIn throughout the product design process to learn about LinkedIn's ongoing business and product goals. These interviews helped my team learn more about LinkedIn's current and past projects and determine our scope of opportunity.
LinkedIn had a previous mentorship feature called “Open to advice” that failed to address the cold outreach problem that mentees (students) face
LinkedIn’s most related current solution is LinkedIn Higher Education. This solution is geared toward Higher Ed professionals and indirectly to students.
We also checked in with professionals and mentorship subject matter experts (SMEs) to learn more about LinkedIn's role in facilitating student mentorship and what a good mentorship experience consists of.
Market Research
We investigated what LinkedIn was currently doing to address its student user base through interviews with LinkedIn product managers. From these interviews, I gained some awesome product insight into LinkedIn's ecosystem. I also had a chance to evaluate how my design could leverage existing mental models and build on core machine learning models.
Our attention was drawn to words that occurred over and over in our discussions with users.

posts, jobs, people, price
Comparative Analysis
Content Research
Next Steps
Design.
Opportunity Spaces
Students and professionals desire more structure when it comes to mentorship.
💡 Create a mentor-mentee feature that mimics the structure of how recruiters on LinkedIn connect with candidates.
Students are not pleased by their feed
💡 Improve student Feed content experience to make young professionals more engaged and eager to participate in LinkedIn communities.
LinkedIn is not offering job tools and information that students find useful
💡 Improve the job search experience for young professionals by including more relevant information on company profiles and making search results more applicable to professionals with limited experience.
Students are looking for a single, affordable solution
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Constraints
Persona Spectrums
Designing with AI
Seamless and Scalable
LinkedIn is an AI-first platform powered by algorithms that are always improving. Different types of recommendations such as groups, members, and hashtags are served from various AI recommendation systems. Our solution needs to support the training of LinkedIn's current AI models across each type of recommendation and be scalable with system.
Fairness
LinkedIn recently rolled our its Fairness Toolkit (LiFT), a tool that can be used to measure fairness and bias throughout machine learning workflows. Bias is important to catch early because it can be potentially reinforced over time. Our solution should promote the creation of recommendation systems that have minimal bias.
LinkedIn's Vision: create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce
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Solution
Create LinkedIn for Students, a membership tier for college students that includes access to mentorship, relevant job recommendations, and student-oriented feed features.
Iterations.
Mentorship
Job
Feed
Final Design.
Mentorship
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Jobs
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Feed
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Results.
Pitching the final idea
Feedback
Lessons Learned.
Thank You
Irina Skripnik, Chris Szeto, Brandon Quinn, Stephanie Ryan, Rohan Punamia, Angie Q. Wang, Jeff Zhao, Nikita Khandwala, Priyanka Bhupalam, Ishan Sinha, Whitney Chan, Sohyung Kang, and Tomer Cohen