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You Found a Job, Now Search for a Mentor

“No matter where you start your career, make sure you find yourself a mentor.”
Tim Cripps, Art Director of Threespot Media

These words still resonate, even months after Tim’s AIGA-GMU presentation last semester. I’d never had a mentor until a few years ago. During an office meeting, our CEO made an announcement about starting up a mentoring program among the 40 staff. I recall hearing his words and looking around the large board table, at the familiar faces of work-peers. My eyes darted from one familiar face to the next. It was truly an important exercise for me… to consider the professional skills and knowledge I wanted to gain, and who might be a cheerleader and balance beam for me in this growth process. I was nervous to ‘put myself out there’ and ask for a mentor. However, once I did, I found this person was flattered and immediately agreed.

In the past, there were several influences in my life who were support systems. However, we never formally discussed that either one of us was the ‘mentor’ or ‘mentee’ … nor did we formally discuss my goals. I found, through this program, that my “feet were held to the fire” and that I WANTED to keep my goals and hear encouragement from my mentor with the steps I was taking to reach them.

The benefits of establishing a mentor in the work place are plentiful, especially as a recently graduated designer. Whether you find yourself in a recently landed job with an In-House Design Firm or a Boutique Design Studio, consider establishing a mentor. If you are a solo designer, consider finding a mentor through a professional association such as AIGA. Find that ‘design crush’ or ‘design rock star’ that you respect, and whose work you admire and go out on a limb to ask if they’d be willing to be a mentor for you.

Personally, I will be on my mentor search after I conclude the job search – and am excited for this next design mentorship in my career.

5 Comments

  1. mphillips wrote:

    I completely agree with you, Lindsey. That was my biggest regret with my first college degree – not finding a mentor. It was hard because at the time I was working for a small start-up company, but your suggestion about searching within a professional organization is an excellent point. After graduating, you’re in a totally different world and getting all the help you can is critical (because even if you may think you know it all…you don’t)!

    Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Permalink
  2. Ayn Roberts wrote:

    LIndsey…..I think I have a design crush on you…..:-O

    ahahahaha! No, you are so right though, having that backbone of support is so important in establishing a balance between confidence and self worth and an understanding of where and how to improve!

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Permalink
  3. Marzia wrote:

    I agree! I am actually a little worried about that too. But I decided to keep up the positive thinking.

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Permalink
  4. Emily Posner wrote:

    Great topic for discussion!

    Having a mentor is a FANTASTIC idea. One of my teachers in high school is responsible for my interest in graphic design and encouraging me to pursue design as a career. He has been my mentor for four years now, and it’s been wonderful to have someone to talk to about the field of design. He was previously a designer (before his teaching career) so he is very knowledgeable about the field.

    I am nervous about my future, especially with the job market in this economic depression, so it’s nice to have an encouraging and supportive figure who can give me advice when I need it.

    Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 6:43 am | Permalink
  5. Jung wrote:

    I totally agree with you. Finding oneself a mentor is a great idea. Thank you for your supportive article!

    Saturday, February 27, 2010 at 10:55 am | Permalink