Mentor after college

I have decided to ask this question, not only to give some advice to the up coming grads, but also for us professionals as well. I just started doing some work with students through my job. We have taken a project that we are working on to a local design school and asked them to go through the process and solve a particular problem. With this I and our other Industrial Designer have been assigned students to mentor through this process. I get great enjoyment out of as I think it is great to give back to the ID students.

I had the same experience in college except my mentor was one of my professors. He thought me a lot, kept me on track, let me know when I was wrong, and was always there for me when I need advice. This has now changed sense I have been out of school for quite a while, I now live a great distance away from college, and am in a different point in my life (married, about to start a family, and so on). I do not know if this is normal but now that I am working with this school I have started to notice that I do not have that mentor in my career anymore. I work in a company that is fairly new to the concept of ID (the past 10 years), we only have 2 designer and I am the more senior one, I don’t really have any designer friend in the area, and although my boss has been in the design industry for a long while he is a Mechanical Engineer and sometime I don’t think he really get ID.

So my question is, how do you get that professional mentor? Do you find someone that you look up to and ask to be you mentor? (This seems like an uncomfortable conversation.) Do you talk to the local firms and ask there lead designer to be your mentor? If so how do you do it with out looking like you are asking for a job?

I thought this might be an informative topic, so let me know your thoughts.

I was always fortunate in that I had mentors at the places I worked, so it was a natural process.

I try my best to mentor those that work with me where applicable, and I have mentored several students over the years.

I think it is a serious issue in design. I feel like I was almost an “apprentice” at my first job and I think this is the best way to really learn.

I agree that this is a serious issue in design. I think we tend to loose site of thing like this with our day to day activities. I was thinking about this over the weekend and thought that this may be something the IDSA could help with. Maybe set up a Mentoring program through the organization. Just a thought.

I do it with my students now that I’m teaching. Just giving them some information that I didn’t get when I was in school so that they can be on track earlier. It’s definitely a good thing to have especially in a field as wide as ours.

Since you sound like your not interested in moving around and trying out other companies to grow (who can blame you nowadays), you might need to go out and make it happen, uncomfortale or not. Go to the conferences, volunteer at local IDSA events/chapters, network… Youll be exposed to a lot of interesting designers that will make you think about your own work

Imo Straight out asking for a mentor isn’t the way to go when you have 5 or 10 years of ID under your belt - though everyone needs good advice sometimes. Myself, I stay in touch with several designers that Ive met over the years and that I respect, mainly because they are friends, but they love design and giving their opinions too. You might try building that kind of network… Even here on Core is a good place

I agree with this and I don’t plan on asking someone straight out to be my mentor. That would be a bit weird and creapy. :laughing: I do attend The IDSA conferences every year and still keep in touch with a great deal of designers from school and in other firms. I just thought I would post this question because we all have that one Prof or boss that we look up to when we first start our careers but like you said, one you get 6-10 years of ID you start to loose some of those connections.

Maybe the answer is not as much finding a mentor but start to mentor others. By doing this we keep ourselves fresh.

Oh, I forgot to mention, no I don’t plan to leave. Its a stable job at the moment in an unstable economy.

… Even here on Core is a good place

Excuse me, Core is a GREAT place to receive good advice… especially when you can’t interact with other designers easily

I spent a couple years as the only designer in a company, in a very not designerly town. I think these forums were the only thing that kept me sane and motivated

I definitely consider Core as a mentoring tool. It is very helpful and informative to listen to experienced designers give advice or opinions. I also really appreciate the sketching videos that YO has made.

Thanks Alerick… I need to do another one…

I agree, and Core has played a big part in my development, trust me, more than I could ever imagine. With that said I still think that it is important to have physical mentor to go to for advice. I remember having that person in college that even when you were beat down, you thought you gave it your all, and thought you just could not go any further, this person told you to get up and keep going. They may not have been the nicest person but they pushed you to do your best. They also had your best interest in mind. I think this kind of dwindles in the real world, especially in the corporate world.

So I guess my question still stands. How do you find that person after school? I guess the bigger question is how do you find it when it is not within your company? I think there are plenty of people, especially in this economy that are looking for this same question. With all the students coming out of ID school and taking CAD positions, and freelance jobs that they do not want, I think it would be great for them to find someone to count on.