This is probably the most difficult step out of all the tips I’ve mentioned. Finding a mentor, establishing a mutual relationship and growing together is probably the most daunting task you’ll encounter as a newcomer in this field. It’s hard to be vulnerable and open to the idea of the beginner’s mindset. However, having a mentor can fast track your career exponentially. Having someone by your side to tap when you’re stuck can help you bypass the useless content online. You can focus more on learning than filtering the content you’ll find in a typical google search.
As a beginner, you may not know what to expect or what to look for in a mentor/mentee relationship. The only thing this search requires is an open mind and an open heart. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. They can be software engineers, senior UX designers, your boss, the VP of your company, the janitor and much more. In this field, you will probably have a mentor for all aspects of your UX career. You’ll have someone who teaches you about design tools, design theory, salary negotiation, navigating the tech world, and maybe even a variation of all those things. Just remember, don’t discriminate. You can learn for anyone.
Have a basic understanding of UX
It’s hard to help someone who doesn’t know what they need help with. Know your focus (UX design, Illustrations, Visual Design, App Design, Web Design, etc. - View Page 2) and knowing the basics of that focus area can help tremendously. This makes you better equipped to ask the right questions and identify the best mentor for your unique path.
Introducing yourself to your mentor
If you take a look at the “Get Connected” section, you’ll see ways to find mentors (Conferences, meetups, classes, and even blogs). That’s usually not the hard part. The hard part is introducing yourself and asking for mentorship. Asking for mentorship can be easy if you just change your mindset. It’s not what the mentor can do for you; however, it’s what you can do for the mentor.
I start by identifying a few people I admire. I look for opportunities where they may need a volunteer or an open position at their company (Even better!)
I follow them on all social platforms and I engage with their content. That way I can get to know them without a formal introduction. I study their style, their content, and fully immerse myself in their way of thinking.
Shooting my shot
At this point, I’m sure that I want this person as my mentor. It is now time to make my way into their email inbox. If I know an event they are attending, I’ll try to introduce myself in person. Since I’ve read their content, I have plenty of conversation starters and I can basically carry the conversation with ease.
Ask for mentorship when you’re ready
Don’t ask for a mentorship relationship right away. You know their online personality but you still don’t know them. Use this time to cultivate a relationship organically. Whether in-person or online, spark casual conversation and stay consistent. After a while, you would have created a comfortable relationship and a great mentor organically instead of forcing things.