Getting a mentor at the beginning or somewhere in the mid-point of your career in the field is one of the best ways for you to scale up to the top. There are a couple of ways you can go about finding a mentor. A few things to remember – not everyone will be open to helping you out, some folks might throw in a bit of attitude, while some may not have the time to mentor you. These may happen in rare cases, but it is something to keep in mind. While a mentor can guide you well, you too need to be open and enthusiastic to learning and upskilling yourself on your own too.
If you are in the initial stages of your career – in college, a college graduate, beginner, career-shifter, etc, the best way is to apply for internships in studios and startups with a decent and respected design head and team. Applying to internships requires you to have some basic design skills, a simple enough portfolio and the zeal and willingness to learn as much as you can. During these internships, even though you may not be handling a huge project, you can learn from the designers who are working on it. Talk to your fellow designers, understand how they work, how they deal with clients, what tools are used, etc. A mentor does not have to be a single person; it can be your entire team.
LinkedIn is also a great platform to connect with mentors in the field. Identify companies, startups and the folks who work in the design team of those companies. Send them connection requests along with a well-drafted message or email talking about you, your skills, the work you have done and how you aim to grow in the field. Ask them if it’s possible to learn from them, either via email, calls or any other modes – only if they agree to mentor you. Not everyone might get back to you, but there is no harm in taking chances and getting in touch with people. They may even put you in touch with someone else too if they can’t do it which is also a win. Reaching out to more people increases your chances of finding a mentor who will be willing to guide you in the field.
There are also quite a few online mentoring platforms where you can connect with industry experts to guide you. DesignLab, Designed are great platforms with plenty of designers with whom you can connect with and get advice. ADPList by Invision has a whole list of design professionals who conduct mentoring sessions and virtual events from time to time.
How did you find your design mentor? Did you go the internship, LinkedIn or platform way? Are there any other online platforms for mentoring? Let us know in the comments below.