Can one do without a mentor?


#1

I am currently self-training to be a UX/UI designer after a stint in graduate psychology school. I live in Montreal, Canada.

First, please permit me to express a tiny bit of frustration: In a span of one year I have now gone through about 4-5 designers, whom I’ve met through my social network and at events (even friends of friends) who have promised to mentor me, and then left my first, second, or third email forever unanswered, falling off the face of the earth. At first, I thought something was wrong with me - I was asking the wrong questions, being overly annoying, or something of the sort. But then, I realized that this is just a fact of life: most busy people don’t have unpaid time to invest into someone they barely know. I am guessing mentoring is something of a rarity, rather than the norm? Is this most people’s experience here, as well?

Second, the question: I am far less confused now, after a year and a half of trying to figure out what the hell I was doing and how everything worked. I feel like I may even be able to complete my initial training and publish my portfolio by myself, without anyone’s help. Has anyone here done so and succeeded in getting that entry-level design job?

Thank you :slight_smile:


#2

I hear you and you’re not alone!

Yes – your experience is (unfortunately) fairly common. I think people like the idea of helping/mentoring, esp when they meet in person at a meetup or conference, but then when they get back to the office and real life sets back in, they keep bumping it off. Not ok IMO, but not uncommon. It’s something that @Lukcha and I talk about a lot.

So to address that further – in the absence of finding an IRL mentor you can lean on us. One of our goals here is for the community to act as a sort of mentor network – we all support each other. It’s not the same, but it’s something.

They have! @chrisoliver springs to mind. Perhaps @enlightened_06 also.

It’s made me wonder about something actually. Do you think it would be useful to have a list of members here, along with their stage of career / level of experience / areas of interest? That way you’d have more of an idea of who to go to with specific questions?


Would it be useful to have a member register with interests/experience level etc?
#3

Try asking people to meet for coffee to pick their brains and ask for advice in person instead of emailing a bunch of questions that may seem tedious to respond to.

Also, I think getting a dedicated mentor is rare. Consider speaking with multiple designers at different stages of their career for advice. Networking events are one way to meet these people. Another approach is to cold connect on LinkedIn with designers at organizations that interest you, and then email them about meeting. I’ve found most designers are generally very receptive to this, and the bonus is that you can learn about working at the organization as well.

I’m actually still actively searching and interviewing for jobs (while working on a part-time pro bono project), but hopefully I’ll get something soon!


#4

As @HAWK mentioned, I’ve worked on my portfolio independently. But I did ask for plenty of feedback along the way. I also looked at many portfolios, website designs on Awwwards, and finally came up with my current portfolio. (http://ved.design)

So its certainly possible, but feedback helps a lot.
Coming to the jobs, I’m still looking as well just like @chrisoliver.
I did manage to get an internship for ~6 months last year.
Sent A LOT of applications for that, and doing the same now for full time roles.


#5

Thanks so much everyone for your replies. This has made it a lot clearer for me. @HAWK I’m not sure about a list of members, but maybe some sort of mentoring section, where people can be matched? idk


#6

Hi @swishie I can comment in regards to getting an entry level design job. I come from a Pharma background completely far away from design (I was a project manager - for medcomms and media company). I can tell you that I too worked on my portfolio from scratch with my own training and literally googled everything. It is possible and it can be done through sheer perseverance and determination. I was very lucky to have a company that was willing to provide additional training - which I feel should be more commonplace than it actually is.

Once you do get in, you start to migrate towards colleagues who like to share things and will introduce you to other people.


#7

thank you so much for your response, @annabelle_andre it’s very uplifting :slight_smile: it’s just sometimes I feel so alone and in the dark… it’s not easy sometimes, but as you said, perseverance and determination!


#8

That’s something that is on our roadmap. I’ll keep you posted.


#9

A thought - as your skills grow the quality of the relationships will too. When I first asked out designers for a chat a year ago it was like some bizzare awkward date. The conversation I had two days ago felt like we were on the same wavelength, and got some pretty hot tips out of it. As an aside, he had just hired someone without a design background too - keep up hope!


#10

Thank you so much for your reply, it actually helped a lot and gave me some courage :smile: