Stanford, California • 2023
Team: Nina Chen, Ariane

How might we best support newcomers as they navigate their careers in a new country? 

Hand-drawn image of a mobile app


Prototyping (Sketching, Figma)
User research


Digital application

The challenge

With a aging populations, countries like my home country of Canada are becoming increasingly dependent on newcomers to help fill labor gaps.  At the same time, the onward migration rate, which represents immigrants who came to Canada but subsequently migrate to a third country, are increasing. Over 25 years, this could mean that over 20% of a particular cohort has left the country. 

Why? There are many barriers newcomers face as they try to settle into a new community: finding affordable housing, securing child care, getting around. One key barrier is finding employment opportunities.

Problem discovery

As a part of my capstone project in the Learning Design and Technology (LDT) program at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, I dug into this problem. My interest in this problem, however, began long ago with my dad's experience arriving to Canada from Hong Kong (read more here).

Since June, I have been working with newcomers to co-design a potential solution. Below are several key insights that arose from my interactions with newcomers.

Checkered flags

Survival jobs are meant to be a starting point, but it ends up being the destination.

Many settlement agencies direct newcomers to "survival jobs" to help them stabilize their finances before they find another less-precarious job. But studies show that many newcomers end up staying in these survival jobs - often low-paying and precarious - for a very long time.

Scrambled soundwaves with a single signal wave going through the middle

When it comes to career advice, there is a lot of noise, but not a lot of signal.

It seems like everyone and their dog has an opinion. Whether it's coming from their colleagues at work or an Internet forum, newcomers can get a lot of conflicting career advice.

Puzzle pieces

The right career advice is multi-dimensional and not solely focused on the newcomers' skills.

Finding the right job is not just about matching skills and aptitude. Good advice takes a holistic of the newcomer, such as their family obligations.

Problem definition

Upskilling or reskilling is almost mandatory for newcomers. They've have one shot at making their training worth it. Taking a few months off to invest time and money in reskilling or upskilling is hard, but many newcomers can pull together resources. But if they choose the wrong program, their ability to bounce back and do it all over again is impeded. How might we be able to design advice that is credible and takes into account the newcomer's holistic self?

How does Aria work?

Aria unlocks high-quality advice for newcomers. High-quality advice does not come from solely one career coach or one settlement agency. It comes from people who have been in your shoes, or from people who intimately know the pros and cons of a training program or entry-level job.

Graphic of paper prototype. First, users converse with an AI agent. Second, a case manager is assigned to the user. 3. Interactive career map is generated. 4. Interview database is provided. 3. Users are supported in the job application process.


Aria is currently is the early stages of development.
If you are a newcomer, or someone who works with newcomers, please reach out - I'd love to chat.