interhacks 2020

role: designer

InternHacks was a six-week program that combined the best of a tech internship and a hackathon. Students received mentorship from tech industry engineers, designers, and product managers, built a community & networked with their peers through project collaboration. The chosen students partnered to work on projects with the mentorship of engineering and product leaders from the program sponsors Netflix, Lyft, IMC, eBay and many more.

I was one of 167 students selected out of a 650+ applicant pool to participate in the inaugural program. My team consisted of 1 designer, 3 software engineers (Caleb Parks, Mamta Shah & Ashley Liu), 1 project manager (Sam Kamau) and 1 mentor (Justine Stewart).

Project Timeline

Week 1: As a team, we brainstormed and consolidated our ideas to reach a consensus on what we wanted to work on as a group. Then, each team member independently studied a particular user journey to identify design opportunities, define the scope of our project and recognize the long-term impact it will have.

Week 2: On the second week, we designed and delegated responsibilities to each team member. We started to think about our project’s architecture (tech stack we wanted to use, user research surveys, prototype testing) and began thinking about the project plan.

Week 3: We presented our wireframes on Design Day and won a prize! But even after design day, we continued to develop different iterations and used the InternHacks Slack community to get feedback from different designers and researchers. 

Week 4: Alike week 3, week 4 consisted of building different iterations, as per our team’s schedule, and also attended office hours to get more feedback on our project.

Week 5: Week 5 consisted of fully developing our designs. We continued reaching out to different mentors and getting their advice on our project.

Week 6: The last week consisted of compiling all of our research findings, user interviews, design process into a presentation deck and finalizing our fully developed website. 


How can we organize job-search and stay motivated to apply amid a pandemic and an economic downturn?

The economic crisis, caused by COVID-19 coronavirus, has forced many employers to make the difficult decision of instituting mandatory furloughs and layoffs. The pandemic, and the stay-at-home restrictions, has already led to millions of unemployment across the country leaving many disheartened. It is no secret that staying motivated during this time in your job search is almost impossible with the endless rejections and lack of responses from companies.

In a quick Instagram poll, we asked two questions for which the 33 responses were:

Design Opportunity

It’s easy to feel discouraged at a time like this but how do we incentivize people to continue their job search?

Stay at home orders have brought a new wave of anxiety, demotivation, and frustration; job hunt adds to the angst. To alleviate this stress, the job application process should become more efficient and stimulating. Currently, no platform promises a shortcut to job search/application, especially when applying to multiple jobs at once, no way of keeping track of all the jobs you’ve applied to and no incentive to continue this job hunt.

Applying to jobs can be stressful and daunting but giving users a doable list (2-3 carefully curated job applications maximum) and a deliberate “off-ramp” can help them feel positively about the app and their progress. One pain point users have noted is the sheer number of job listings on job search websites; they feel overwhelmed. Longer sessions don’t always equal success. By helping users develop a habit of using Ping-A-Job to apply at least once a day can be an effective way to engage and retain users.

Design Solution

Like video games, this job application platform will contain elaborate reinforcement and rewards to maximize motivation. The reward system will act as an incentive to inspire intrinsic motivation in individuals while also offering extrinsic rewards. By incorporating a humanistic touch to this application experience, Ping-A-Job will motivate people to see job hunting in a positive light and help remove the stressful aspect.

People will have the ability to set weekly/interval goals such as a number of applications to send out or a number of cover letters to write and additionally, giving rewards, streaks and other daily application requirements will help people stay consistent in performing tasks daily. From time to time, a daily notification will be sent out to nudge a user to submit job applications but the reminder will not insist on overapplying and instead, will suggest a doable amount (“apply to 5 places today!”) to prevent people from feeling pressured. Jobs can be recommended from LinkedIn as well to keep a user from needing to leave the app to find new opportunities.

Preliminary Research

How To Make Even the Most Mundane Tasks More Motivating

  • This Harvard Study shows that motivating people to complete mundane tasks can be achieved by showing them a greater picture of what it looks like once it is done.
  • It gives examples of people trying to pursue a new career for the betterment of their family and providing their children the luxury that they deserve
  • Instead of using long term achievements as motivators, using an in-app point/reward system will be something to look forward to

5 Top Challenges of Job Seekers

  • This article describes the main challenges of job seekers and our product may be able to solve some of these issues: too many places to look, uninformative job descriptions, not enough information about the companies, lengthy confusing hiring processes and lack of feedback.

User Interview Questions

Motivation Questions

  1. What are people motivated by? 
  2. What are some incentives?

Job Search Inquiry

  1. What does people’s job search process look like?
  2. How do people job search? 
  3. How do they keep track of their job search?
  4. How humanistic is the job hunt/market platform?
  5. What’s the demographic of people who use different job search platforms?

Planning/Organization Questions

  1. How do people plan
  2. What do they plan for? (Budget/meal plan/homework/life goals?
  3. What medium/platform/program do people use to plan?
  4. What are some existing applications out there for job hunting?

Check out the full user interview responses here!

Defining Scope
After collecting user feedback from a survey we sent out to find out user pain-points related to the job search and conducting market research on the solutions available for users on their job search, we have narrowed down our functionalities.

Job Application Tracker
People create a document/spreadsheet with a list of all the companies they have applied to, with a detailed breakdown of position and responses received. But this makes the job search process time consuming and Ping-A-Job streamlines this process by keeping a record of all applications and organizing them based on the progress.

Job Posting RecommendationsPing-A-Job will use machine learning solutions to tailor job recommendations to each individual. This way, people will have quick access to a list of consolidated job postings from different sites to carry out their job search efficiently.

Reward SystemA major pain point is that applying to jobs can be stressful and overwhelming. Our solution is to simplify the burden of applying and make users feel good about it by allowing them to set ‘tasks for today’, visually seeing the progress they’re making and seeing it get checked off as a reward.

Competitive Analysis

1.  Huntr

  • Good UI Design + Clarity
  • (Demo Board) Neat + Organized Deck

  • Ability to Share Boards

  • No Smart Personalization
    Does NOT curate or suggest job listings for you
  • Heavily Dependent on User Input + Motivation
    Their “Activities” tab (to-do list) starts out completely empty and is heavily dependent on user input and motivation. Ping-a-Job has the potential to be even simpler and more fun to use.
  • Statistics are Stressful
    138,611 jobs in Healthcare?! All of those huge numbers can stress a user out!

2.  Noom

  • To-Do List Interface
  • Helps users stay on track each day and also celebrates when they’ve completed it.
  • Rewarding Weight Loss
  • Makes weight-loss seem like a less scary, less stressful task.

3.  Smart Recruiters

  • Visual Representation of Progress
  • Gives a sense of achievement
  • Simple Elegant UI

  • No Filter Capabilities
    (i.e Date of application, role, location)

4.  Handshake

  • Category Suggestions
  • “Popular In Your Major”, “Based on Job Roles You're Interested In”, “Recommended based on your activity”, “Jobs Expiring Soon”, and also based on industry.
  • Tracks Application Status + Interviews
  • Directly Signup to Events

  • Design is Bleak
    Could add to the dreadful feeling people feel when applying

5.  JibberJobber

  • Action Items
  • “Popular In Your Major”, “Based on Job Roles You're Interested In”, “Recommended based on your activity”, “Jobs Expiring Soon”, and also based on industry.
  • Exporting Action Item/Task
  • Job Journal (Logging Achievements)

  • Traditional Spreadsheet (Excel) Approach
    (Date of application, role, location)

User Persona
Our target users will range from college students looking for internships and new grad positions, people already in the job market looking to switch jobs, unemployed people in search of jobs to indirect users such as parents, advisors, counselors, and recruiters.
Ideation & Wireframes
Initially, I honed in on specific design elements such as the reward system and the progress bar. This allowed me to narrow down my options and see for myself which ones were working far better than others. I had to take into consideration how progress of application should be shown (calendar-based, or progress-based), how often people should see the rewards and what they would like on their dashboard page.

Final Design
After receiving countless feedback from my teammates as well as my mentors, I was able to make further changes to my iterations. Once my wireframe was set to provide the basic skeleton of my final design, I then added colors to the design. Because our team was under a time crunch, we were unable to make a responsive mobile design but we are aiming to work on it even after this internhacks program.