It has been a while since I last posted! I have been lucky enough to have taken on a lot of freelance work over the past few months, which is a good thing. However, I thought I would take a few minutes to share a bit about one of my favorite parts of my life at the moment: mentoring.
I have been mentoring UX students enrolled in the UX workshop for the ed-tech platform Springboard since the beginning of the year. As a freelance UX designer and writer, my work week is never the same. Sometimes I spend 20 hours a week sketching and wireframing and other weeks I am writing almost full-time. The one constant in my week is my set of weekly mentoring sessions. These sessions definitely top my list of things to do!
I started with a handful of students back in January and now currently meet with 15 students a week. My sessions vary per student but generally consist of reviewing their project assignments, providing feedback, discussing design trends, and answering any questions they have about UX design, their careers and sometimes even their personal lives. The majority of the students live in the USA but I also currently have students from Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Hong Kong.
There are so many reasons I love mentoring, but here are my top three:
1. Mentorships are about sharing and development. It is not a top-down relationship based on power. I learn from my students as much as they learn from me and that is what makes these kind of relationships so valuable.I haven’t had a session yet where I have left the conversation without gaining some added value in my own life. Sometimes it is a recommendation of a band I should be listening to, writers I should be reading that I never heard of before, or even a color palette that I think would be perfect for the project I am currently working on.
This week I had major writer's block. I could not write the 1500 words I needed to submit to a client for the life of me. I tried all my typical methods to get inspired including taking several walks a day to clear my head, reading, and taking a break from it for a few days but nothing was working. I decided to trash my article and start a new one based on an inspiring conversation I had with a student who was a journalist in a past career. I am so thankful for her encouragement to just let it go and move on!
2. Developing relationships with mentees takes time. Like any relationship, establishing trust is essential for a relationship to flourish. There have only been a few students who right off the bat are open with me. It takes time to establish trust and I really appreciate that.
3. Mentorship relationships can be quite powerful for the mentor’s own personal development and overall satisfaction with their life and career. I personally feel incredibly fulfilled after each and every mentor session. The reason for this is that in a way I feel I am giving back by sharing my own experiences with people who might gain something from my story.
If you have a chance to be a mentor, I suggest you make it happen. You won’t regret it!