2. Getting everyone to sign up
When you've finished laying the groundwork in step one it's now time to start signing agencies and student coaches. The most important part in this step is to settle on a set of ground rules and a code of conduct that all stakeholders can sign of on. Key is to get everyone to understand the amount of time and dedications that needs to be invested in order to have a successful process.
To start with we recommend that you reach out to the agencies that you want to involve in the project and set up personal meetings where you present the goals and the basics of the project. The objective of this first briefing is to give agencies a clear picture of the responsibilities (and the amount of fun!) that comes along with a project like this. In short, tell them how many hours a week someone from their office is expected to spend mentoring the teenagers. Don’t sugarcoat it. Be honest.
From our experience the agency mentors spent an average of 10 hour per week working together with the teenagers. The primarily taks for a mentor consisted of taking attendance, giving assignments and helping the group creatively throughout the process. Being vague about the time estimate and the amount of commitment that the project demands can result in the agency mentors feeling overwhelmed or tricked into signing up for a task that was much more demanding than they originally thought.
The student coaches
When assembling all of the stakeholders that we wanted to involve in Stockholm Open students from advertising and communication schools quickly came to mind. We believed that matching each team of teenagers with a student coach and giving them the role of group coach would prove to be beneficial in more than one way.
First of all the teenagers would have someone closer to their own age to help guide them along the way. And seen from the coaches point of view this was also a chance to put their strategic, creative and leadership skills to the test. The student coach also become the bridge between the teenagers and the employees at the agency. By taking on this task the student coaches got the opportunity to network, make a name for themselves and establish important agency contacts.
To recruit your desired amount of student coaches you have to map out how many communication schools you need to contact. Talk to the schools you have in mind and ask if they can schedule a time where all students gather to listen to your presentation.
The process of reaching out to 300 teenagers and assigning them summer jobs is achieved through close collaboration with the city council. Stockholm city council has experience in creating and administrating thousands of summer jobs every year. With this they are also responsible for providing letters of employment and paying the teenagers salaries for the hours that they have worked.
In short, the city council have years of experience administrating summer jobs - the only real question is how is a project like Stockholm Open different from other summer jobs they have distributed in the past? Here it is crucial that you have a tight knit communication with the council and that you are clear with what requirements that need to be checked off before signing a letter of employment.
- The teenagers need to be 17-20 years old. Stockholm Open as a project requires that all participants can both independently and as a team. This is an important aspect and something that the council has to bare in mind when recruiting for summer jobs.
- The teenagers need to be informed about Stockholm Open and what it entails before signing the letter of employment.
The council need to get the following information from all the teenagers that sign up to work with Stockholm Open:
- Name and gender
- Can they speak and communicate in the local language or English?
- Where they live (which suburb)
- Contact information and email
- Contact information and email to their legal guardian(s)
To know each teenagers gender is important to create gender equal groups. We thought we created such groups, but noticed during our visits and the presentations that many teams were unequal with one singel girl or boy. Going by name proved to be more complex than we thought.
We also realized that it is important to have contact information to the teenagers legal guardians. Communicating with millennial is not always an easy task. When we needed to solve problems quickly, they were not easy to contact, and sometimes contacting a guardian would proved to be more efficient.
Some teenagers didn’t have a public transportation card and hence had trouble commuting their work place. The agencies are all located in the city center while the teenagers lived in the outskirts of the city. So make sure that everyone has the required means to travel between home and work.
From experience we believe strongly in having a 10 minute oral presentation when recruiting student coaches. Just sending a link with the sign up sheet might generate a high number of registrations – but with that came an equal amount of last minute drop-offs. By actually meeting the students that you want to recruit makes them that much more committed to the project.
We also learned that it is important to be clear about how many hours a week the student coach should be at the agency. Our evaluation showed that most of the student coaches spent 10 hours a week with the group and most of them felt as if they had to check in with the group every day to guide and help them progress.
Another factor is the relation between the student coach and the agency mentor – Who is responsible for what during the project?
We believe that it is best to give the main responsibilities to the agency mentor: they are in charge of providing the groups with tasks, lectures, having workshops and so on. They also have the main responsibility to create a schedule for the group.
The student coach on the other hand is there to help guide and motivate the group on a day to day basis, either in person or digitally. And make sure that they are doing the tasks that they have been given.
It is important that you are clear about what is expected from the agencies when signing up to a project like this. From practicalities such as providing the group with laptops and a proper workspace and taking attendance to the more social responsibilities that comes with guiding a group of teenagers.
To simplify communications we recommend that you create a simple website where all stakeholder in the project can find the information they are looking for. So whether you are a summer worker, a student coach or a agency mentor it is easy to find important dates, start-up guides and other general information about the project. This is probably the greatest learning of all in this open source document. A website would have saved us heaps of time and frustration answering the same email over again.