13-15 June 2018

Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh

UX in the wild: mentorship

Session type:

Session duration:
60 minutes

Presented by:

Sarah Klassen-Rempel

Descartes Systems Group

About this Discussion

Mentorship is important. It’s how we pass on our hard-won knowledge, reminding us how far we really have come. It’s how we learn new ways of thinking about or approaching a new problem. We find relief in the stories from others' experience and solutions to our challenges that we once thought were unique. The learning and growth that happens through mentorship cannot be replaced.

Mentorship, and the support and guidance of various mentors, played an important part in guiding me through my first year as a brand new UX team of one. I was fresh out of school, stepping into my first job as a UX designer at an engineering driven company. That year was a mix of successes and failures, including spending too much time designing icons, getting my colleagues to stop saying “UIX”, attempting to define a process multiple times, and finally finding a way to demonstrate the value of user research. At each point of indecision or exhaustion, having a mentor who had done this before to turn to for advice was an immeasurable help.

With case studies from my experience and others, in this session we will explore the concept of mentorship. The value it can bring to both mentor and mentee. The difference between mentor, connection and role model, and we will ask if that distinction really matters.

We will look at what mentor-mentee relationships can look like, and how they can be built. We will challenge the assumption that mentorship (or menteeship) needs to be a large commitment. We will explore ways in which the mentorship model can enhance relationships between UXers and non-UXers within organisations. And, most importantly, we will walk through some ways prospective mentors and mentees can find each other.

Participants will be invited to listen and consider and share their own stories so that we can learn from each other.

UX newbies will hear some war stories that might give them ideas on how to face their own challenges with this new experience. But more importantly, they will learn some ways to help them build support both within and outside their organisation.

Seasoned UXers will learn that they have experience to share. It might not always feel like it, but progress has been made. There is no better way to be reminded of this, and to freshen your motivation and drive, than to share stories with someone who is facing the challenges you already overcame.

Everyone will learn that mentorship can have many applications. The mentor model can be used to share knowledge and build connections with people in other industries as well, building understanding and appreciation between colleagues. Because when we can spend less time explaining, we can have more time building great products.

About the Speaker

Sarah is a Canadian UX designer living in Glasgow. She started her career with a transition from being an eager graduate student to being an overwhelmed UX team of one at a well-established enterprise software company, relying on the support of mentors both within and outside the company to help her take on the challenge of building a culture of design.


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