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The Value of a Design Mentor - UX Beginners

faithekanem2 profile image Faith Ekanem Updated on ・5 min read

“Behind every successful story of a UX designer, there is a UX design mentor”

A Design mentor is someone who has design experience who you have respect for, trust, and keeps in high esteem. Someone who you see as a role model, seek advice and get more knowledge from. Someone who has an interest in the growth of your personal and professional life.

Mentorship is a collaboration or association between two or more people as collaborators or teammates which bring personal development, professional development, and learning into focus.

From my own view, when I think of mentorship in UX design, I see it as a scenario where an experienced UX designer (Mentor) is teaching and an inexperienced designer or a designer with few years of hands-on experience (Mentee) is learning.

Mentorship is very vital when it comes to the field of user experience (UX) since design tools, design techniques, and best practices are persistently expanding of which professionals must pay detailed attention to things and vigorously carry on their learning skills which will result in learning fundamental concepts. Apart from the skills and Knowledge, a mentee benefit from their design mentor, in UX, it is always advisable to get feedback from other designers while designing which also leads to growth in your professional network.

Someone who has good quality mentoring has a greater chance of getting her first UX design job because mentors recommend their mentee for a job and also connect them to people in the UX field.

Someone who is mentoring builds skills in management and leadership, and also gives an opportunity of empowerment by giving back to the community. One of the mentor’s benefit is the fulfillment of being part of someone’s success story.

I would advise UX beginners who are determined to advance their design skills and also to succeed in achieving their personal goals to opt for mentorship.

Ask yourself this few questions before you get a design mentor:
1.How much time will you put in for the mentorship?
2.What aspect do you want to be mentored?
3.What are the goals you want to achieve with a mentor?

A good design mentor is ready to invest his energy, resources, and time in his mentee. A design mentor adds impact to a mentee’s career by giving advice, feedback, sharing knowledge, and experience. His aim is to assist his mentee to improve their design skills and progress in their career.
The basics knowledge gained from bootcamps and UX courses can not teach you how you can apply that knowledge in the real world of work. A design mentor will teach you how to apply the design process and knowledge gained in Bootcamp and UX courses practically in the real job.

I am a self-taught UI/UX designer without a design mentor, which has not been an easy one as a beginner. But currently, I have a design mentor by my side which has helped me in my career, giving me guidance on how to be creative and be simplicity in my design.
Having a Design mentor will make you fast in learning and grow in your design skills. The significant impact of my mentor is helping me to save time in the cause of learning and avoiding mistakes by simplifying my designs. The values of a Design Mentor for UX beginners are listed below:

  1. Mentorship makes you boost your confidence
    Mentorship stretches you and makes you think outside the box which helps you to defend your work and build stronger confidence in yourself. Creative confidence is achieved and boosted through effort, hardwork, and experience. Creative confidence in my own understanding is having the belief that you can change the world around you with your potential and make a move on it. To build your creative confidence, always take on challenging projects which will make you gain respect and be recognized in the industry. When you develop the zeal of wanting to learn always, gives you the confidence to take on challenging projects.

  2. Build your skill of accountability
    A design mentor advises you to define your goals, and guide you in working towards the goals in possible steps by assigning tasks to you. Constant progress strengthens your motivation and gets a faster outcome.

  3. Gives solution when you have setbacks
    You might face challenges during the phases of the design process either with the design tools, among teammates, soft skills, e.t.c, Your Design mentor can give possible solutions on how to fix the challenges you encounter.

  4. Improves your communication skills
    Your presentation skills are being developed when your work is being shared with your Design mentor. My Design mentor provides feedback on my work to guide me and make me think about design in the right way to boost my UX career.

  5. Gives resources
    A Design mentor gives out useful information and resources that will be knowledgeable to you and make you see UX from a different perspective.

  6. Connect you to opportunities
    A Design mentor will unveil any opportunity that will benefit you and improve your professional network.

  7. Provides feedback
    Feedback is important in the UX field which results in designers improving their design skills. The main purpose of feedback is to know where we need improvement and how growth can be achieved in our career. I get feedback either from my mentor or by sharing my designs with the UX groups I belong to. By getting feedback from my connections, I build a continuous connection that promotes my products. It is also important to share the design process, by sharing you create the opportunity of learning about other UX designer’s processes which helps in your iteration. Places on the web where designers can display their work are dribble, Behance, Tumblr, e.t.c. you can also share your work during local design meetups and workshops.

My mentor was helpful and honest in giving me feedback. I never had judgemental feelings as a beginner and all his feedback had played an important role in my career growth.

You can find your mentor by attending local design meetups, RookieUp, IxDA.org, your professional network, your place of work, designed.org/our-mentors, e.t.c

Closing Thoughts
1.Taking a job that is challenging helps you build the zeal of learning and which will lead to your career growth.
2.For you to be better and advance in your career, always be open to feedback.
3.Always be yourself, you having a mentor by your side does not mean you should be your mentor. Instead, aim at getting knowledge from them and knowing their skills.
4.Build your confidence by having the mindset that you can do something new.

I in-person, I have seen the great value my mentor has added to my career growth as a young UX designer. I am indeed happy having a mentor by my side.

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