WOW! I'm coming up on two weeks into my intensive UX journey and so much has happened already. Chief among those events is that I have already obtained two high performing, high authority mentors in the industry that I speak to on a regular basis!
Some may be looking for a mentor right now that they could connect with. Some may be wondering how they can get the most out of their relationship with their mentor. Well today, I would like to share with you how I obtained my mentors and how huge of a benefit they have been to me.
HERE'S MY STORY
While I was researching programs I could take to help me get my career going in UX, I stumbled across a company called Career Foundry. I saw their UX program and on their website, they have a section where recent graduates provide their feedback on the course. To be honest with you, my first thought was "this is cheesy....these people aren't real. They must have been paid to say these things. I'm going to research each individual to see if they are real!"
So I started searching for these folks on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. You know, doing everything short of being a stalker. Most of them got back to me with real, honest feedback. One of them reached out to me and told me to call this person. I was shocked!
So I called, and to my surprising delight, I was speaking to a REAL PERSON, with real responsibilities, who was very real about the industry, the course, and about the story that led this person to UX. I shared my experience and my absolute gratitude for the connection. We had a long, awesome conversation about UX. Geeked out on UX! We connected, and we both agreed on a genuine Mentor/Mentee relationship!
Through my mentor, I connected with another authority in the industry. And now, I will have two mentors helping to reach my goals in UX.
Here are my take aways from this experience:
BE GENUINELY INTERESTED IN UX!
This part I feel is important to speak on. Let's be real, there's a lot of benefits to going into UX design. The demand for UXers is high right now, and companies are willing to pay top dollar and give you good benefits and a good work/life balance. It's easy to jump into this arena just to get the perks.
I have found the UX designers are very real people, so they will likely sniff out a fraud from a mile away. They are also nice, so I do believe they will give you some advice or guidance. But when it comes to finding people to help you in this industry, if you're not genuinely interested in what they are interested in, if you can't "nerd out" over UX with them, it will be very difficult to find a mentor. Probably best to figure out what you are genuinely interested in and go in that path rather than UX.
PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE
I had to do it. Everyone else had to do it! So do you.
I sent InMail messages on LinkedIn to reach out to people in the UX industry to get their perspective on the Career Foundry course. Yes, I actually paid for a premium membership with LinkedIn to do this. I was serious. I think the UX community recognized that and responded accordingly.
Now a days, there is no excuse not to put yourself out there. You have soooo many resources that make it easy to reach someone. LinkedIn is awesome, but you can also do FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. It 's worth mentioning that LinkedIn worked for me though.
BE GRATEFUL AND ENTHUSIASTIC
This kind of goes with my first point. Being grateful and enthusiastic at all times is easy when its' coming from a real place. So make sure you are genuinely interested in UX.
Furthermore, show your gratefulness and enthusiasm for speaking with someone about UX. Talk about things that you have found. Share your perspectives. Express your enthusiasm for the industry. Connect with people on these topics and your experiences. I was and still am genuinely grateful and enthusiastic about connecting with my mentor. I think she appreciates that!
HAVE SOMETHING TO OFFER
Having a genuine interest in UX and being enthusiastic about the industry is a solid start. Those two alone will prompt you to want to be involved in any project at any level without even getting paid, which is good.
But beyond that, you have a wealth of knowledge and experience that will be useful to somebody. Whether it's work experience, volunteer experience, course work, sports, whatever! Your unique talents and experiences can be beneficial to somebody. As you are connecting with a potential mentor, try to mention those things when it is appropriate to mention them.
This leads me to my next point...
I appreciate my connection with my mentor a lot. I love her energy, sense of humor, her take on life and I'm pretty sure she loves mine. We were both being very real about who we are and we formed a genuine connection because of it. I would hope that's what all mentor/mentee relationships are like.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Leave a comment below or email me using the contact form on the Contact tab.