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Recruit Members and Create Teams


A strong DFA studio has committed teams who have fun using design for social good. In DFA you will meet individuals with different backgrounds and for different passions. Leverage the difference of your members to create diverse teams focused on creating social impact!

Output: Teams formed with members with diverse backgrounds and majors.

Effective ways to recruit members and create teams:

  1. Set interdisciplinary recruitment goals for the term.
    • How many teams will you have? How many members should be on each team? What kind of skillset are you looking to fill for existing teams? Each DFA studio is expected to have at least 2 teams of 4-6 members.
    • Remember, one of DFA’s principles is working as interdisciplinary teams to provide a variety of perspectives. Make sure your new members reflect that!
  2. Make clear steps for interested future designers on how they can get involved in the studio.
    • How can people join a team and what is the process? You can have applications, hold interviews, run an intro workshop, etc.
    • How can people stay updated even if they cannot join a team? Let people know about your Facebook group/page, newsletter list, date for your first team review, and any open workshop, etc.
  3. Develop a recruitment plan.
    • Think of ways to attract members from diverse backgrounds. Sign up for activities fair (or “student organization fairs”), find listservs to send out emails, find professors who will let you can pitch DFA in the first few minutes of class, know the policy for flyering and participating in official events on campus.
  4. Finalize your applications.
    • Your applications could be written forms (google or typeform work well), interviews, a mandatory event like a bootcamp, etc.
    • Include helpful information for the applicants: What is Design for America? What are project topics your studio is working on? What is the time commitment for being on a project? When are studio and project meeting times?
    • Some questions you could ask: Why do you want to join DFA? What social issues are you interested in? What’s your spirit animal and why?
  5. Train your recruiters and make PR materials.
    • Know the DFA pitch! Make sure everyone can explain DFA and its vision and explain it well. If you don’t have a pitch already, check out “Paint a picture of your studio” for tips on creating an informative, concise pitch about your studio!
    • Know the expectations of being a DFAer! Make sure you are clear about the time commitment for being on a project and let people know how to stay updated on your studio’s activities if they don’t have time to join a team.
    • Know the application process for the term.
  6. Get your name out there and recruit members!
    • Stand out from the crowd to attract people from all backgrounds. See recruitment inspirations examples below.
  7. Form teams with diverse backgrounds.
    • Look for different majors, years, and personal backgrounds.
    • Take new member input and interest into account. Members interested in a project topic can apply their passions to their work!
    • Involve team leads in the team making process if you have them pre-set.
  8. Welcome new members to DFA and projects.
    • Check out “Welcome to the DFA community” for tips on introducing new members to the rest of the studio and helping them learn about the studio resources!
    • Check out “Introduce HCD” for tips on giving a broad overview of the process to new members to help them immerse in projects quickly!
    • Check out “Kick off projects” for tips on building a good foundation for projects!
  9. Debrief and document learnings for next year’s recruitment.

Network Best Practices

Create interdisciplinary teams like DFA Rice

Rice creates teams based on the individual’s personalities more than their skillsets. Once they finalize team leads for each team, they interview the recruited members with diverse backgrounds to understand their interests and a bit of their personality in a teamwork environment. Then the leads set teams according to the personalities while keeping in mind to make a diverse team. So far, Rice has found a lot of success in their way; teams enjoy their experience and many become good friends outside of their projects, making DFA Rice an active group of social innovators!

Stand out from the crowd like DFA RPI, Cornell, U of Illinois, and Northwestern.

DFA RPI wanted a creative way to attract interest with an interesting giveaway for activity fairs and recruiting events on campus. They 3D printed DFA keychains and made fortune tellers with important information about what DFA is, what human-centered design is, and what their studio is up to all rolled into one.

DFA Cornell spells out Design for America with legos across campus to earn name-recognition and for people to think of them in a fun, creative light!

DFA University of Illinois makes a splash at their activities fair by walking around with an interactive display worn by a DFAer.

DFA National’s PR kit, a brochure highlighting what DFA is, showcases latest impact and how others can get involved to hand out on campus. Download and use it to help explain DFA on your campus!

DFA Northwestern holds info-sessions to give a detailed overview of DFA, set expectations, and turn potential recruits into active members. 

Social media campaigns! Follow DFA studios to see the latest social media techniques! Want the links and handles to ALL social media outlets in the DFA network? click here (*last edit April 2016)