In the field of UX it seems that mentors are lacking more than ever, and that we may never get the help we seek. What then happens if we never get the mentors that we are looking for? Do we just sit down and sulk. No, indeed we do not. What we do instead is turn towards a lesson learned from sports: Mentorship comes in many different forms, it’s up to us to recognize it.
Every sports team has a captain, right? Unfortunately, that person isn’t always the best person to lead the team to victory. This is the same in the field of UX. In fact sometimes, in UX, this person doesn’t exist at all. Thus we have two choices in order to solve this lack of mentorship. We could sit down and grumble or we could make like an established athlete and recognize our other options.
When I found myself on sports teams that did not have the mentorship I wanted, I went out and looked for it elsewhere. I observed other team members who I wanted to play like, and whenever they had a free moment, I asked them to show me a new move, or explain to me their line of thinking. I would also play sports outside of my ‘official’ teams, and there I would find mentors as well. The important thing to note is that by exposing myself to different experiences, and not rooting myself in my anger at not having a mentor, I was able to see beyond my situation and grow as a athlete. You see, mentorship is a two way street. Sports taught me this.
By applying this same methodology to my UX career, I was able to find mentors without waiting for someone to assign them. I could then extract the type of information and insight I needed to grow into the UX professional that I wanted to be. Mentorship is something I’ve learned both how to do, as well as to extract from others. By doing so, I have become the master of my own destiny, and you can too. Thus, the best UX mentor for you is out there, just maybe not all in one place. It’s up to you to find them.