Project Overview

📢This project was the 2023 LinkedIn summer internship 7 days design challenge.
As a result, I was selected as a product design intern🥳🎉

LinkedIn is a place where people can connect to people they know, to share professional experience and opportunities.  

Design an experience that helps college students discover and connect to their classmates.  


UX Researcher
Product Designer


1 week


Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Illustrator



Key Features

New Onboarding

New card introduced in onboarding
This raises awareness of Linkedin Pods product and how it facilitates discover & connect between classmates.

Degree and Major/Program input section
This is to gather additional information from the users to recommend the program group. Degree and major/program inputs are collected from the students.

Joining the Program Group
and the Discovery of Pods

Students are encouraged to join program groups and find specific pods based on their interests within the broader group.

Pods are more
Intimate, Informative, and Fun!

Students can have more intimate and fun experiences in pods!
Pods are smaller and encourages more interaction between its members, and it becomes a more informative safe-space for the students.
Students can change their pod profile picture to make it more personable, and with a click of a button, they can connect with all members that have the same interest!

Inviting Pod Leaders

Pod members can invite leaders that can act as peer-mentors! Pod leaders are given a badge on their Linkedin profile and they can display the pod leader experience as volunteer work.


1.1 Understanding

Before starting the research, I took the time to understand the task and the objective.
This process helped me clarify and prioritize what research method I should use, the questions I need to ask,
and what I'm looking to understand as the result of the research.

Below is the list of questions I intended to find out more about through the research:
- Definition of classmates to the users
- Definition of the term "connect"; just adding on platform or active communication?
- How do students discover and connect currently?
- Do they use Linkedin as a part of this process? Why or why not?
- What features within Linkedin can be leveraged to allow students to connect to one another?
- What would be the long-term, sustainable solution from Linkedin's perspective?

1.2 Secondary Research

To start the research off, I checked for any existing data points.
Discovering and connecting means that students should communicate through Linkedin,
but what is the most used method of communication between students?
2019 survey by INSIDE HIGHER ED states that Linkedin is one of the least used social media platforms.

The finding was somewhat expected.
I looked to confirm the existing data point and have a deeper insight into the findings.
I conducted my own survey and user interviews as the next step.

1.3 User Survey

I created a 14-question survey and received responses from 40+ current college students in 24 hours.

Reviewing the survey results, students have fairly strong perception of Linkedin as a platform for professional network.
However, our goal is to promote "discover and connect of classmates in college."
This is not an easy problem to solve because most students think of their classmates as friends,
and communicating with friends via Linkedin is "weird".
Some people mentioned recommending people to connect to just because they go to the same school was "unnatural".

1.4 In Depth Interview

To gain deeper insight into definition of "connect" and to better understand student Linkedin usage,
I conducted five 40-minute interviews with students over the span of 1.5 days.
To keep the results objective and to ensure diverse perspectives were captured,
surveys were done with students from various programs, schools, and years. Through the interview,
I also looked to understand more about why students would want to connect with people with similar professional interests on Linkedin,
and what features may be helpful for this usage.

2.1 Affinity Mapping

I created an affinity mapping based on interview and survey responses (short responses) to organize the results by themes.

Needless to say,I gained valuable insights through interview that I did not initially get through the survey!

1. People use the term more broadly than expected.
Defined as colleagues in same class, major, and program. Years and level not significant.
2.  Students feel comfortable adding classmates as a network on Linkedin, but interaction rarely evolves on a personal level.
They are okay to continue interacting with classmates for career/professional information.
3. More schools than expected do not have a default communication method.
Different schools use different platforms, but most are ineffective.
4. When students reach out via Linkedin, it's usually because they need help.
5. On other social networking platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat, people use different social media platforms depending on the level of "closeness" of friendship. New relationships are added on Instagram, and as the relationship develops, people add each other on Snapchat or other texting apps. If the relationship is on a surface level, people reach out via Slack or Linkedin.

2.2 Persona

I created a persona based on common findings from the survey and the interview results.

2.2 How Might We

Based on the research, below How Might We questions were asked for the design ideation.

3.1 Time to Brainstorm...

I came up with a product idea that captures HMW
questions. The product's name was derived from the term "peas in a pod", and hence was named Linkedin Pods.

Linkedin Pods allows:
1. Space where mutual career and professional growth can be nurtured between classmates.
2. Both top-down or horizontal channels for information sharing.
3. Smaller and more intimate connection between classmates.
4. Younger and more fun design and UI compared to Linkedin Groups.
5. UX that facilitates easy sharing of personal experiences and information.

Solution expectation:
Segmented and concentrated smaller groups allow for seamless discovery of new connections and relationship development between classmates with similar professional interests.

3.2 User Flow

User flows helped define the workflow and helped identify any missing steps or flow.

3.3 Information Architecture

I wanted the users to have more visibility and better proximity to the product other than the ingress through Linkedin Groups (path 2 below), so a link to Pods in Linkedin's drawer menu (path 1 below) was added.

I will now showcase the main features of Linkedin Pods and the updates to Linkedin's existing features that accomodate Pods.

4.1 Onboarding

Added a new card in the onboarding page.
This can raise awareness of Linkedin Pods and how it facilitates discover & connect between classmates.
This page can also be made visible to existing users and not just the new joiners.

Added Degree and Major/Program input sections
Even within the same school, different degrees may use similar acronyms and names for the program.
This may result in Linkedin recommending people to connect that have no relation to the person.
Linkedin Pods is embedded in Linkedin Groups.
It requires additional information from the users to recommend the specific program group.
Hence, degree and major/program inputs are collected from the students.

4.2 Joining the Group to the discovery of the Pods tab

Added Top Tabs on the Group Page
Users who are not already part of a program group will get a notification to join the school's program group.
Users who are already part of the group will see the new group screen on right, and tabs are created in the group page.

4.3 Pods Search and Discovery

Discover Pods!
This is the logo for Linkedin Pods. Idea came from dot on the "i" of Linkedin and the spherical "peas" in pods.  
Linkedin's illustrations are usually 2D, but I wanted to give Linkedin Pods a more casual and active vibe, and used a 3D illustration.
Also, Linkedin Groups photos are cut in squares.
In Pods, the images are cut in circles to stay true to the theme!

I divided pods to three main categories.
1. Classes - for discovery of classmates beginning of each quarter/semester.
2. Extra Curriculars - for discovery of classmates  during the quarter/semester.
3. Internships - cohesive to Linkedin; for discovery of classmates during the quarter/semester.

4.4 Pods Main Page 1

1. Categories
There are three categories of content on Pods.
Pinned Posts - These are configured by Pod Leaders. Important announcements, FAQs, and information can be pinned.
Posts - Posts that are relevant for pod's interests and intent.
Pod Chats - Can be off-topic posts  for more personable interaction with pod mates.

2. Users can change their pod profile picture
Linkedin profile pictures are usually very professional.
In Pods, you can express yourself better through your profile picture and feel more intimately connected to the page!

3. Connect with all members
A Pod is already an intimate and/or smaller group of people.
So added a feature that allows for one-click to connect to all people.

4. Thread-based
Groups encourage feed based information sharing, whereas Pods are thread based.
Feeds are good for scrolling through for fast and accelerated consumption of high level information,
whereas contents on Pods are intended to be targeted, specific, and detailed.

4.4 Pods Main Page 2

1. Invite leaders
Pod members can invite leaders.
But the flow needs to be differentiated with member invites since leaders are a group of a peer-mentors.
2. Reward for pod leaders
Pod leaders are given a badge on their Linkedin profile and they can add the pod leader experience as volunteer work.

5. Other Feature Updates to Stimulate Pods Usage

5.1 Usability Testing, Iteration