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Mentorship in a Turbulent Time

One the best things you can do in this moment is provide feedback, counsel, and comfort to someone who needs it

Think back to your beginnings as a designer. Do you remember someone who took the time to review your work or offered a tip that helped you navigate your first steps into the field? You could be that person to someone else.

There are thousands of students who will be graduating into the most uncertain economy in a century, as well as young professionals who barely got their foothold in the industry before losing their jobs. They need all the support they can get right now.

Folks like Carly Ayres and Kate Bingaman-Burt are showing us a way we can engage virtually during these times. If you have 30 minutes to meet with someone starting out or pivoting their career into your area of expertise, here’s your chance to make an impact.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Join our directory: Become a member and fill out as much information as possible about yourself, so folks know what it is you do. Check the box in your profile that says you’re willing to mentor, so people know you’re open to connecting.
  • Set up your tools: Set up a Calendly link so folks can book time with you, and explore the best ways to use Zoom or Hangouts, or whatever option you prefer.

Some tips for running a great session:

  • Break the ice: Introduce yourself and ask for some background from the person you’re talking to.
  • Set an intention: Ask what they most want to get out of the session. Maybe they want feedback to their work, or maybe they just want to ask for your advice about something.
  • Be honest: If you’re reviewing work, be straightforward and kind about what’s successful in the work and the way it’s being presented, and what’s not.
  • Tailor your feedback: Understand the level of the portfolio you are reviewing. Is it from a student, mid-level career designer or someone with years in the business? Make sure your feedback is appropriate to where they are in their trajectory.
  • Be constructive: Explain why a technique is not working well and offer suggestions to improve it.
  • Provide resources: If you’re giving feedback about a growth area you’ve identified, give the person something to read, look at, or refer to.

If nothing else, the most important thing you can provide is understanding and empathy. A lot of folks are feeling the ground shift under their feet. You can be a steadying force by just being there.