Slice Labs

Evolving the Co-op mentorship program

UX Strategy
Sample of various Co-op mentorship kit
Tldr; Case studies are lengthy ;)


My role

UX Designer, Mentor


How can we evolve the Slice's Co-op placement program and focus it more on mentorship?


Develop well-paced and relevant onboarding materials that are focused on student's goals.


Students are able to own a project from start to finish and walk out with a case study

"I had an amazing co-op experience thanks to Ali’s mentorship and guidance. She supported my growth as a UX designer by introducing me to new aspects of the field, while helping me improve my pre-existing skills. Her process and preparation made this it a smooth and enjoyable learning experience."

Francois Roger, Co-Op Student


Talking to co-op students from different UX placements
Developing onboarding materials
Active mentorship through goal setting workbooks and frequent check-ins
Preparing for the next cohort


What do other co-ops do?

User interviews

I've never been a co-op student. I've worked with them before, but I have no idea what it's like to be a UX co-op student. I decided to reach out to a few people in my network with UX co-op experience. I wanted to know:
  • What was your favorite co-op placement like? What worked well?
  • What was your least favorite co-op placement like? What didn't work well?
  • What are your goals out of a co-op placement?
  • When you hear "mentorship", what do you envision?

Research Insights

Program Implications

Students want to experience the UX process from start to finish.
Choose a project where students can experience as much of the process as possible.
Students want real responsibility, not just tasks you don't want to do.
Find a project that is easy enough for them to tackle independently, but challenging enough too!
Students have goals too and they wish they can drive their career – but with your guidance.
Develop a goals workbook to use at every 1:1 and check to see if we're meeting student goals.

Come aboard

Prepping onboarding materials

A month before our co-op started, I began to take plan their first month in Miro. I placed majority of my focus on their first 2 weeks.

I also made a mini checklist to look over whenever we onboard a new student:
  • Do they have all the tools?
  • Yes – I made a list of software, tools, and accounts that they would need. This includes Slack, relevant Slack channels, and team drives.
  • Do they have all the meetings?
  • Yes – I booked our calendars with all the meet and greets they would need to virtually onboard.
  • Is there an area for self-Serve faq's?
  • Yes – I updated and created any documentation that they can refer to.
  • Do you have a project prepared?
  • Yes, but this involved more work that I expected. I had product that I knew would fit well for a student. But was I totally familiar with it? I decided to review the product and pinpoint the problems that we might solve for during their co-op term.

"Ali is very approachable and always open to lend a listening ear.  Her guidance and feedback helped me to further develop my UX skills while still allowing me to feel a sense of ownership and independence over my projects."

Pamela Ong, Co-Op Student


Tools for the journey

Peaks, Valleys, New Horizons workbook

Peaks, Valleys, New Horizons

The tricky part with a co-op placement is the short time frame you have to get to know each other. I needed something that would help me get to know our new coworker while learning more about their goals with the placement.

I took inspiration from this Peaks and Valleys Workbook. I decided to add a new section called "New Horizons" to encourage students to be more observant of the company and see areas where they want to contribute.

UX Strategy

I used Jared Spool's Leaders of Awesomeness program called the UX Strategy Intensive. This forced me to think strategically about the project and how it can fit back into the organization, whilst also helping the Co-Op student.
Playbook cards


Inspired by Connected's playbook, I created cards on Miro. Each card explained various tasks or rituals we can use to finish a success project. With the student, we moved around the cards and created our strategy together.

I found this to be a great tool because it showed the big picture to the student. It kept them accountable and they were able to be proactive in finishing their project. They always knew what step was coming up next.

This Playbook approach also revealed which UX practices our student is comfortable with vs. which ones they aren't. It highlighted the areas where I'll have to guide them a bit more and which ones I know they can do successfully.


Documentation is crucial for moving our program forward. I made sure to take notes of all the steps I took and share the files with the team. This means easier onboarding for future students.

What I learned from this project

Loved the playbook approach

Using the playbook created an environment where both I and our students are kept accountable. It exposed them to the steps it takes to build a product and it showed me what areas I'll need to lead them in.

We need more juniors

Working with a co-op student showed me how helpful it is to balance a project with someone. They bring forth curiosity and energy to tinker away at screens. This opens up time for more senior designers to focus on product thinking.

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