What to expect of a mentor?


#1

Hello, all. I am happy to have found this community!

I live in a big city with a relatively active UX community. Most events are paused for the summer, but I am planning to attend a lot of meetings and do some networking in a couple of months. To find a mentor. But I don’t know what to ask of a mentor.

I am a student in a program that is not specifically UX (thought related) and I work the rest of the time, so this pushes all my UX learning projects into my spare time. Do I expect them to help me through email? Personal meetings? What’s too much to ask? What is not enough? How to approach people with a request to be a mentor? I’m an anxiety-ridden introvert. Please help. (I hope the question is clear enough!)

Thank you!


#2

Hi Ilya! Welcome :smiley:

Mentors are really valuable - I myself am one and I have several of my own.

One of my mentees lives overseas (I live in Australia) and we communicate via email. Like anything it can be challenging but nothing that’s insurmountable.

One of my mentors lives interstate (Sydney) and another one works two desks over from me right now. For my mentor in Sydney we communicate via google hangouts and over the phone and for my desk buddy we have brief catch ups every two to four weeks. I gain value from all of those conversations regardless of how we have them :slight_smile:

I too am an introvert and I also have Asperger’s so I totally get the anxiety thing! I’ve found the easiest way to get a mentor is to just ask them. Find someone that you think will help you with your development need and just reach out to them via email or social media. Most UX people are pretty open to it and will generally only say no if they genuinely don’t have time. I took on too many mentees at one point because I wanted to help everyone and I ended up being terrible at it! One of them ended up suffering and I felt terrible so I’m now much more realistic about what I can do for another UXer.

Mentoring is also a two way street so they get something out of it too - think about skills and knowledge that you have that other people might not. When I worked in government I was lacking skills that a more senior designer could mentor me on and he was lacking user research experience so we mentored each other.


#3

Hey @ilya – welcome. So glad you found us. :slight_smile:

Ash’s post is brilliant and likely answers all your questions.

All I can really add is that mentors are invaluable but unfortunately often hard to come by, especially if you’re just starting out. There is a chapter dedicated to finding a mentor in our Get Started in UX book. You should receive an email shortly with a discount to that book if you’re interested.

But in the mean time, crowdsource it! We can help out by acting as mentors here at the community.


#4

This. So much this. The UX community as a whole is generally much more welcoming and approachable than other areas of tech I’ve worked in.

I’d also say that a mentor/mentee relationship is something a bit like friendship. You communicate in the way that’s easiest for both of you. I have some friends that I get coffee with, some friends I text with, some friends I’ll call up, and others that are online-only. We do what works best for us.

A good mentor/mentee fit has as much to do with matching up your personality and communication styles as it does with the actual knowledge transfer aspect of the equation. It may take a bit of looking before you find someone who fits your own, and that’s okay! Take the time to make your search worthwhile and satisfying. You’ll be glad you did in the end.


#5

Thank you thank you so much everyone! Your responses are wonderful.

It’s just that I got discouraged on my first try. I approached a guest speaker in one of my classes, who is a well-known UX designer in the community. I asked him about mentorship and he offered to help me out. He replied when I first emailed him, however disappeared after. I asked him to meet or just share ideas by email… no response yet. It hasn’t been weeks but enough time has passed that I see he might not be interested.

Why would something like this happen? I understand people are busy, but just let me know, you know? Anyway. I’ll keep trying! Thanks again!


#6

It’s not uncommon but it’s also not a reflection on you. I think people prioritise things differently, and perhaps this guy made a promise that he fully intended to keep but then life got in the way. The great thing is that you’ve learned that he’s not going to be reliable early on. Don’t give up. :slight_smile:


#7

This.

It’s ok - you’ll find one :smiley: