How To Be A Good Mentor for A Junior Designer

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Many design schools pay too much attention to how to build a portfolio for yourself and “sell” yourself at a higher price. This is useful when you are an experienced designer. When there is no experience, it will be much more useful to acquire a conscious approach to the design process.

It is well known that theory without practice is useless. But a crowd of young people without a theoretical knowledge is even worse.

A profession without professionals

Designers with more than five years of working and training experience in the industry are probably familiar with the situation with two conflicting sides.

On the one hand, there is excitement about the profession: online schools, broadcasts, and classes about the success that awaits for a student after watching a video.

On the other hand, there is a devaluation of the profession and a decrease in competitiveness within the industry. Slow development of the trade community and a low level of salary in the market.

A side effect of this situation is that the profession is taken seriously neither by business owners nor even by some colleagues. This is fixable if you understand the core of the problem.

Where to start

Schools of art and design have been built on workshop systems from the Middle Ages to the present. The master took on a limited number of beginners. It was easier to evaluate knowledge in this way.

It makes more sense when a junior designer works in a group of senior designers and a development team. His further development depends on us and his desire to grow. Help the beginner in the way that you can.

How to be a good mentor
Image by rawpixel.com

 icon-angle-right Make a path

Make a learning plan that will help you focus on the important stuff, forming consciousness and project thinking in a junior. A well-thought-out sequence and sectioning of information for the study is important.

For example, to shove Norman and Cooper’s books into the hands of those, who are confused about the work of the color wheel is somehow strange. Spend three to four days creating the right one for your team.

 icon-angle-right Make agreements at the begging

Talk to newcomers about the working processes within a team and a project. Focus on what teamwork is. Processes differ in each company, even from project to project.

Everything seems might be obvious to us, but when a bunch of new technical terms and knowledge is thrown into a person at once, it is depressing and disorganizing.

Outline the company’s expectations from the employee’s actions and the responsibility for each action and decision. We were not in a fairy tale.

 icon-angle-right Introduce them to the team

Introduce, show how to communicate and interact with colleagues from other departments. Juniors can be loaded with a small task on projects to support internal marketing projects, where the risk is less and the training material is overwhelming.

At the same time, they should sit down with an experienced mentor on a complex project. Under the supervision of a mentor, a big amount of technical work carries out. So, not through books or videos, but through personal experience he gets to know the development team.

 icon-angle-right Teach him to be “bad”: copy and criticize

Working on a problem means asking to formulate the problem of the interface aloud. Send a trainee to search for references without limiting the area. Let him find and explain the choice.

After that, try to copy the found option as it is, but remains in line with design guidelines. He will not be able to provide the same visual but will give a solution. Pay attention to the result.

Give links to colleagues’ implemented products. Invite to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the interface of these products from the visual and custom perspective.

Ask what should be improved and by how? It is useful to arrange these discussions using the following questions:

  • What brand are you dealing with?
  • What markets and audiences are being served?
  • How to sell and attract customers?
  • How can you describe your clients?
  • How are they positioning themselves?
  • What technologies are used?
  • How are layout and animation evaluated?
  • etc

 icon-angle-right Suggest to try with a pencil

Beginners who face the first more or less difficult task many times create something intermediate. The project does not develop further, the options can not found.

And they won’t be found, because too much time and love has already been spent on the project. In the head of a creator, the solution is perfect. Such productivity challenge occur regularly at the beginning.

At the first sign of a creative crisis, take a designer away from the monitor and ask him to draw the solution on paper.

It takes much more time to make a model in a graphics editor without pre-sketch. In the future, repeat this approach until you notice that the specialist himself grabs a pencil.

 icon-angle-right Expand interests

Stimulate and inspire trainees to study different topics. History of the World, design, arts: painting, graphics, sculpture, architecture, music, photography, fiction. Science: psychology, sociology, cultural studies, geography. General knowledge of front-end, back-end, marketing, and management.

There is no need to understand each area in detail. It is important to understand the basics and know what constitutes the work of colleagues. Obviously, being well-read and well-versed develops the necessary soft skills.

The ability to comprehend and then adequately express in the verbal form a project idea helps to find the means and methods for solving project problems faster and more accurately. The ability to defend a project through discussion raises project activities to a new level.

 icon-angle-right Learn to see a structure

Every beginner is in dire need of the formation of integrated thinking. Of course, it is difficult to expect a vision and understanding of the future product as a whole from a person who does not know enough professional tools.

The tasks set at the early stages do not exceed the “go to this page and add a button” format. However, you should start to bring understanding just at this time. So it will be more useful than waiting for the person to grow to the level of middle plus and maybe he will come to this by himself.

Teach you to break down the process into stages, to decompose first small and then large tasks. Ask to try to estimate the time frames. Suggest creating a scheme for medium projects by himself, without an analyst.

Check what you have done, advise, and suggest improvements. This will help develop the skill to see the particular in general and general in particular, which has a beneficial effect on the formation of the complex vision skill.

Of course, it is impossible to show the student how to see the problem, to build an original way of problem-solving.

Firstly, give him complete creative freedom, ask for at least a couple of visual options for the same scenario. After that, when reviewing completed tasks, say your thoughts out loud, ask uncomfortable questions about user experience, behavior mechanics, and how to implement rendered interface elements in the frontend and backend.

Let them suffer, formulating the answers to these questions. This must be done delicately so as not to discourage the trainee from being creative.

Sometimes, gently remind them that they are responsible for making decisions. Otherwise, excessive fiddling with them will make them over-relaxed. The mentor is perceived as being responsible for everything.

 icon-angle-right Discipline

The word “discipline” often has unpleasant associations with school or army. However, we are talking about a different side: turn trainees’ experience into a habit.

Without the formation of just a little discipline, the listed recommendations are useless. It is obvious for everyone – only constant practice gives results.

 icon-angle-right Set an example

Of course, this will work if we are going to be a good example to follow, and will have full pockets of structured knowledge that is constantly being replenished.

Do not give lectures, but set an example in work on current projects, suggest activities, invite to participate. Interest and enthusiasm appear when you are being involved in the process at all stages.

Why is it important

Results in onboarding and skill development are only possible with the right, consistent, not random, situational approach. Following mentioned above rules, a medium-sized project can be fully managed by juniors as early as the 3rd month.

Beginners show tangible growth, reaching the middle level not after three years, but after 6-9 months of intensive work with them. Of course, it is important to consolidate the achieved results with 3-5 large projects, to develop independence in trainees.

Surrounded by a sufficient amount of data, flexible and constantly updated, it is not difficult to obtain information. It is difficult to build a sequence of tasks. Protect a beginner from unnecessary stuff. At the same time, grow an interest in them.

The development of the industry in terms of the transfer of information and experience depends on this. Let’s influence shape it not only with online-classes about everything and nothing, but also focused patient work with colleagues.

Businesses grow from year to year and are less willing to take risks and spend money on non-professionals.

About the Author!

Angela D Johnson is a professional author in Essay Map that offers help with research papers to students. Having the heart of an explorer, she loves to travel, experience new horizons, and expand her knowledge on different topics. She is also a skilled content writer who writes articles on topics like HR, business, education, self-growth, and many others.

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