Creating Connection and Confidence Through Student Onboarding


Moving Forward Family Services is a non-profit that provides counselling and social work practicum opportunities for counselling students. With an increased number of new practicum students every year, they are finding that their onboarding process has logistical issues and is not supporting students well. I worked with stakeholders to identify pain points and ways to strengthen their onboarding process.

  • Service Designer
  • Workshop facilitator
  • UX Researcher

Aug 2021 – Oct 2021


Moving Forward Family Services

The Challenge





Connecting With Stakeholders

I started by meeting with the executive director to discuss the pain points he has seen and identify where we
The executive director and I identified three main goals for the student onboarding:

  • 1. Help students feel more confident and prepared
  • 2. Make the onboarding process less overwhelming
  • 3. Proactively deal with issues so students don’t feel alone

I conducted interviews with six students and one supervisor to gain insight into the organization and understand the practicum process from their perspective. The interviews gave me an opportunity to connect with students face-to-face and many expressed gratitude for the opportunity to meet face-to-face and discuss as I was the first person affiliated with the organization they had met through a medium other than email. This was the first clue that Moving Forward was lacking connection with their students.


Students can’t find information on the website, so they email staff who tell them the information is on the website

Better communication about schools’ practicum requirements is needed so supervisors can support students


The orientations are quite long and disorganized


During the interviews, two words kept being repeated by students: confidence and connection.

How might we make students feel confident and connected?

Stakeholder Workshop

Creating Alignment Among Stakeholders

With this question in mind, I facilitated a workshop with the executive director and the two employees who helped with student orientation. We started with an empathy map to set the tone for the workshop. Then we worked on a service blueprint to get the full picture of the orientation process and map all the touchpoints, pains, and gains. We brainstormed solutions and then organized them in a prioritization grid.

Empathy Map

We started with an empathy map exercise to encourage the workshop participants to start brainstorming and get into the right headspace for the rest of the workshop.

digital whiteboard with an empathy map covered in colourful sticky notes and three cursors

Service Blueprint

A Breakthrough moment for us was discussing the service blueprint. It was the first time my stakeholders had seen their onboarding process laid out like this.

service blueprint outlining the steps in the student orientation process

Project Roadmap

The stakeholders and I brainstormed potential solutions and prioritized them on a decision-making matrix. We then created a project roadmap.

Opportunity #1 Support new students and supervisors with clear documentation

I created two documents that will be sent to new students and supervisors. The first one outlines the role and responsibilties of the organization, the students, and the supervisors. The second helps students and supervisors understand the practicum process and suggests questions they can discuss in their first meeting.

Usability Testing

I met with a supervisor to test the documents I created. After a couple rounds of feedback from stakeholders, I created the final version.


Opportunity #2 Help students find information with a user-friendly information architecture

Original Information Architecture

Improved Information Architecture



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