UX Design Education and Mentorship


#1

Hi guys, I was readying this article and it got me thinking.

I’ve seen the same kind of situation haunt the design field, speacially when the internet grew a lot and many people thought there needed to be a web designer, because it was a whole different career (in terms of education) than a graphic design career.
And this also happens time and again in many new fields.

Since I am considering the leap to a UX Design career (having some experience with some of the methodologies, but before I even knew there was a US career out there), I find it difficult to access what I know from learning, what I know from experience and what I have experience with but having been able to frame an understanding of who to tackle the situation.

This brings me to 3 different kind of questions:

  1. What do you guys think about the issues highlighted in the article?

  2. One way I can imagine would help (to some degree) everyone getting into the field is mentorship. And I know UX Mastery has culture of stimulating this within the community. But how does it work? It is more like a Ask me Anything kind of relationship? A set of proposed works? How doe it actually work?

  3. And to people here in the community who have already found a mentor, how is it helping? What do you believe have changed? To those that switched careers, how did it help in terms of experience and confidence?

thanks


#2

I was someone who stumbled into UX work by doing it before I knew there was a job title (let along courses you could do to magically become one). I started with a large IA project, and was lucky enough to have a boss who didn’t want to spend much money and also didn’t trust me to do the job. Sounds unlucky, but the compromise was I had a mentor who guided me through the project, which was invaluable. I learnt so much, and she was awesome at schooling me on all sorts of things that could be useful, even if they weren’t needed for the work at hand.

It was an awesome start in the world of UX design. Six months of being able to ask questions, gain feedback, try things out, get ideas… I would love the chance for more. I suspect it would be more valuable than a course. Courses or workshops are inspiring and help you discover new ways of thinking, but sometimes I long for the chance to regularly ask questions of or bounce ideas off someone else.


#3

I can answer some of your practical questions around community and mentorship, @deciopenna.

You are right about the value of mentorship, and about the fact that we work really hard here to encourage people to find a mentor, and to rely on us when they can’t. The harsh reality is that traditional one-on-one mentors are pretty hard to find. When we started this community we hoped to ‘hook some people up’ but it hasn’t really happened. The community was a lot smaller at that stage though, so we could potentially try again.

In lieu of that, we decided to crowdsource the support that people usually get from their mentors. We talk through problems, we help build portfolios, we organise learning sessions around topics that people are struggling with, and we answer as many questions personally as we can. I wish there was more we could do!

We have a couple of ‘career’ type sessions coming up over the next couple of months. This Thursday we have Heather’s session, and next month we have one with Cory Lebson.

Do you have our Get Started in UX book? There is a chapter in there about mentorship which you might find interesting.


#4

Hi @HAWK, Thanks for the honest answer.

I have the book, but haven’t read it yet. I will take a look on that chapter.

@gillian_halba, thanks for your answer too. It’s great you had that opportunity. I actually had some degree of liberty at my company to try things out. As in your case, the company didn’t want to spend money, but trusted people here (me in this case) could learn it out and make it work. I am pretty much up for the challenge. The problem in this case is you having no idea how much of a professional result you can produce this way, And that can also hurt the company trust on UX (if the person learning is not in fault here, than the methodology must be), or even get the right results they needed. I guess in this case, everyone gets as much back as they are willing to invest, right?

Unfortunately in my case, I’ve lived that many times before and I find this actually hurts my confidence in actually switching to a UX career, but I haven’t yet found a way of doing it without having to risk being unemployed.

From what I’ve seen on previous posts, I knew mentorship was one of the ideas put forth by the people in this community, like @HAWK said. I was trying to imagine how a mentorship could happen here, that’s one of the reasons I asked.

Thanks.


#5

I think there are lots of options available. Have you checked out the Information Architecture Institute? They have volunteer mentors who can help. Also, earlier in my career I found someone about 2-3 steps ahead of me and actually paid him to look at some stuff I was working on. His advice was priceless! But I also believe some online courses are better than others. For example, as a UX Mentor for CareerFoundry I realize I’m biased, but I’ve seen lots of students go through their program and find good entry level positions upon completion. The course is indeed just a stepping stone to a much larger world, so I encourage students to seek out a mentor figure, who would ideally be their hiring manager during their job search. Hope that helps!