How I started Design Mentoring?
Exploring the transformative process
5 min read
Life is a tapestry of random events, and sometimes, the smallest coincidences can set off a domino effect of opportunities and learnings. While some individuals seem to stumble upon the right people for help, receive unexpected invitations and feedbacks aligning with their aspirations, or sometimes people get stuck and may feel left behind in their career.
I’ve been both a mentor and a mentee over the course of my career as a designer and leader in Product Design. This post shares some insights gleaned through the years for starting and maintaining good mentoring relationships — and creating value and act as a catalyst for unlocking potentials.
How it started?
I never set out to become a mentor, it was bit difficult to reach out for help or take some feedback on portfolio or career shift. I suffered this scary journey as a mentee to find right mentor on advocating my difficulties. but I also had the kind of self-delusion that helped me do things like this “Even better,” I pep talked to myself, “I’ll learn it all by myself!”
And I did. I learned through online tutorials and Youtube videos, tried making a prototype, failed, got frustrated, and took more attempts until I learned it, all by myself. And I was quite happy with my small victory but as I progressed in my career, It was a moment of reflection that prompted me to question, "What if I had received guidance and support, just as I had provided for myself?"
I found myself being approached by younger designers who were looking for guidance. At first, I was hesitant, but I soon realized how much I enjoyed helping others and sharing my knowledge and experience. This started in my previous organization where i was headed with a project with three designers Shubhankit, Parna and Sandeep.
Over time, I developed a structured mentoring process that allowed me to provide the best possible support to my mentees.
The Why Behind Mentoring?
Mentoring is not merely an act of altruism; it is a powerful force that drives growth. A mentor is simply someone who helps us get unstuck, a non-judgmental person who listens with an open mind to help us steer clear of the mistakes they themselves made (and wish they’d had a mentor to help avoid). A mentor helps us accelerate our growth by showing us a clearer path with fewer distractions and obstacles.
Think of it this way: When you climb a mountain, you’re thrilled to get to the top — but then quickly look to the next peak and resolve to reach that summit. A mentor helps you scale those upcoming peaks.
This is why a good mentor keeps you motivated and gives the direction.
Learn, Unlearn and Relearn
When we teach others, we inadvertently enhance our own learning. This taps into various mental mechanisms that optimize our understanding. This sets how we learn when we’re learning for ourselves, as compared to how we learn when we teach others.
The Protégé effect is a psychological phenomenon where teaching, pretending to teach, or preparing to teach information to others helps a person learn that information.
By explaining information to others, or even preparing to do so, we absorb the content more effectively. The act of teaching enhances our metacognitive processing, making us more aware without this ever being our intention. I learned to do efficient learning strategies like organizing the problems into categories, reordering them, identifying key information into simplest way and put inside the mentees brain. Sometimes, I had been vocal to some scenarios but the idea was to visualise a clear path to mentee.
Being a design mentor works wonder to instills one’s confidence and improve communication skills.
Impact and Learnings
The impact of mentoring was two-fold. I witnessed the growth and achievements of my mentees filled me with pride and a sense of fulfillment. Observing my mentees overcome challenges, gain confidence, and excel in their design endeavors was incredibly rewarding.
Mentoring others has greatly contributed to my personal growth by constantly challenging me to stay updated with the latest trends and best practices in the field of Product/UX design.
Networking & Enhanced Communication Skills :
Mentoring on ADPList expanded my network globally, connecting me with diverse and talented individuals, creating new collaboration opportunities. Being a mentor sharpened my communication skills as I effectively conveyed complex design concepts to mentees with varying experience levels, improving my ability to articulate ideas clearly and concisely.
Being a mentor has allowed me to develop and hone my leadership skills. Guiding mentees, providing constructive feedback, and helping them navigate their career paths has improved my ability to lead and inspire others.
Sense of Fulfillment: Seeing the growth and progress of my mentees brings me a great sense of fulfillment. Witnessing their success and knowing that I played a role in their professional development is incredibly rewarding.
Continuous Learning: Mentoring is a two-way street, and I have learned valuable insights and perspectives from my mentees as well. Each mentoring relationship is unique, and I have gained new knowledge and ideas through these interactions.
Honestly, it has truly been a transformative experience for me! I believe I can empathise and talk more confidently with folks on complex situtations as mentoring has given me the chance to look from different lenses. I strongly encourage anyone to embrace such opportunities to become a mentor, no matter how small the contribution may seem.
If you have any inquiries regarding the process, please refer to the information below to get in touch with me. I would be delighted to assist you in becoming a part of this incredible community or I can lift you to become a successful designer. And I mean it!
I am Divesh Borse, Sr. Product Designer @Microsoft and Global Design Mentor @ADPList aiming to help curious and young individuals to transform their career in design. If you are looking to have a 1–1 conversation with me, you can schedule it on ADPlist.