I've had the privilege of mentoring a number of emerging people of various disciplines throughout my career.
Brand identity designers, brand strategists, human-centred design practitioners, advertising creatives, writers, graphic designers, communication designers, photographers, illustrators, strategists and the like.
Mentoring has, and still is a rewarding and educational experience for me.
- I get something out of the experience of mentoring; and
- I learn something from the experience of mentoring.
In my years of mentoring, I've had both positive and negative experiences — some of which I've outlined for you below so you can hear it from the mentor's point of view. Names have been changed to respect people's privacy.
Some of my more interesting mentoring experiences have been:
- The Communication Designer who became a Strategist in Human-Centred Design
- The Graphic Designer who became a Photographer
- The Writer who wanted to be a Designer, but I told her she should be a Creative Director instead
- The Intern who became my mentor
- The client who wanted a career change
In all of these experiences I have learned so much from each of these people—so much about myself and so much about how to work tirelessly to equalise the relationship you have with the people you work with and remove any sense of hierarchy, superiority and ego.
Here are some of the positive experiences I've had as a mentor:
- Getting to know someone new, someone you would never had known before. This is a gift. This person would never have crossed your path if it were not for this circumstance.
- Listening to someone talk about their career aspirations is wonderful—the possibilities are endless. Anything is possible and nothing is impossible.
- Helping another human is a damn good thing.
- Seeing the look in someone's eyes when you've paved a course for their career through advice and guidance, is priceless.
- Challenging someone's own notion about what they can do with their career is something I constantly do. I embrace the possibility that a career can pivot and change, shape and reform itself through guidance and small, delightful surprises.
Here are some of the negative experiences I've had as a mentor:
- I've had people who've opted in to meetings with me not show up. No email. No phone call. It must've been something I said.
- When someone wants you to do it all for them. That's not mentoring. That's something else.
- I met with a young graduate a few times—on the recommendation of their University lecturer—and he told me at our first meeting that he didn't really want to be mentored by me, because I wasn't from the 'boutique design studio' he wanted to eventually work in. He had a list of three studios he was going to work at and I wasn't on the list. I was fine with that and asked him why he still continued to call me to meet with him. He stopped calling after that.
- There have been a few people whom I've mentored who treat it like a job interview. It's not a job interview. It's mentoring.
In the next couple of weeks I'll be covering off:
- How to Find a Mentor: A guide to finding and creating a council of mentors for yourself
- The first meeting with your mentor: An outline of how to prepare and conduct the first meeting with your mentor
- Lone Wolf & Cub: A realisation that you have something to teach as well.
As always, if there's a questions you're struggling with, drop me a note.