Developing a mentorship program

11 Feb 2010 - 8:30pm
6 years ago
3 replies
1528 reads
Susan Oslin

Have you been a mentor to someone in the interaction design field?
Have you been mentored by someone? The IxDA LA is developing a local
mentorship program and we are looking for people to share their
experiences. What works, what doesn't? What have you gotten from
being a mentor or mentee? What could be better? How did you get

If you have not been a mentor or mentee, but perhaps have wanted a
mentorship relationship, what would you want from a mentor or mentee?
What do you have to offer?

Your thoughts and experiences are greatly appreciated!


11 Feb 2010 - 9:58pm

I'd love to sign up to find a mentor and be a mentor :)

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Posted from the new

11 Feb 2010 - 10:22pm
Amy Silvers

I've been a mentor and a mentee in the IA Institute mentorship
program, and off the top of my head, here are some things that have

--Set expectations up front. This is the big one, and it needs to be
done by both parties. What does the mentee hope to get out of the
mentorship, and is the mentor able to provide it? Is it a structured
mentorship, with set sessions every week/two weeks/month, or is it a
"let's chat when we have a chance" mentorship? Will the mentorship
be goal-focused (I need specific help while I'm working on this one
project), educational, career guidance, or what? And practical
expectations need to be set too--where, when, how will you interact?
How long will the mentorship last? etc. Putting this stuff in
writing, even just in an e-mail, is a good idea. It can be modified
as you get into the mentorship, of course, but having something
concrete as a starting point is a big help.

--Be realistic. A mentee may want someone whom they can call whenever
a problem or question crops up, and some mentors may be able to
provide that, but others won't. Mentors should ask themselves how
much time they can *really* give, not just how much they'd like to
give. And mentees should have reasonable expectations of what their
mentor can provide.

--Be honest. A mentor-mentee pairing may look good on paper but not
work out as expected in practice. If that happens, it's a good idea
to end it early on rather than dragging out the relationship out of
politeness. Neither party should take it personally if it doesn't
work out.

--Be prepared. This may not be true for everyone, but I found that it
worked best to go into each mentorship session with something specific
to talk about, and I would often jot down questions to ask.
Unstructured chats can be rewarding too, of course, but in general,
things will proceed more smoothly if you have a plan going in.This
goes for the mentor as much as the mentee.

Those are just some basic ideas. Flexibility is important too--no two
mentorships are exactly alike, so these suggestions won't apply to
all cases either. But they've worked pretty well for me.


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Posted from the new

13 Feb 2010 - 7:41am


I'm enjoying mentorship program at IAI. But not sure if I can help
you... my case is no local.

I'm the mentee. I'm based in Barcelona (Spain) and my mentor in
Amsterdam (The Netherlands).
I would recommend the experience. I have learn a lot, even thought
all this large distance between us!

I discovered de IAI mentoring program and sounded great. My
educational background is LIS (library and information systems). I'm
UX team of one in my company and I wanted to improve my UX skills,
specially improve my methodology.
I started looking for a Mentor inside the IAI. During this search I
was visiting The Netherlands and I fortunately met Peter Boersma (he
is also the Amsterdam UX Cocktail hour organizer). I asked him if he
would like to be my mentor and said yes!

So, when we started, we defined how the relation will work: what kind
of help, the duration, which forms of contact...
In essence, I ask him questions by mail, he review my docs and
correct/guide me, and every now and then we meet to do it
face-to-face (I love AMS). And he also know what I need to improve
and my interests, so he always sends interesting info: contacts and
the best resources (links to whatever: articles, videos, people...).

I contacted him last march, but we really started in may. So we have
been working together for almost a year. Now I feel more comfortable
with my work and at my work. We know better each other, so I'm
improving my questions and he wonderfully guide me: reactive and

So, I usually bore him with: thanks, thanks, thanks!

Lately, I've seen lot of people asking for masters and education
advice in the list. But Mentorship could be also an option for some
cases. Personally, I'm enjoying methodology and also career help
from my Mentor.

bests regards!
(and hug for you Peter!)


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