Mentors were integral for the success of my gap year. Not only do mentors provide guidance and perspective, but they also bring to the table something someone starting out in any industry will never have… Experience.
At the core of my intention for reaching out, I wanted to know how they got to where they were. How did they navigate the design industry? What were their work ethic like? What was their networking plan like? Did they have any mentors? Once they landed a design, what did they do to continue to educate themselves to improve? The answers to questions are what I wanted to know.
At the same time, I had my own questions I wanted to ask. What are skills that startups and/or agencies look for in a UX/UI Designer? Is my portfolio good enough to be even considered? How should I penetrate the industry, given my business background? Am I too young? What would make me stand out?
The list goes on. The creative industry was not something I was well versed in but I knew I was interested in it. The only way I knew I was going to get answers from these Designers was to show these experienced designers that I was hungry and wanted to learn; and down the road, that I was applying their tips and lessons and that I was constantly trying to better myself.
To my surprise, I got one comprehensive email that went something like this:
Which lead to something like this:
I couldn’t believe it. To be given the opportunity to eat breakfast at the Google Office, whilst getting advice from an experienced UX/UI Designer was huge honor. Even though my highlight of sending cold emails, I’ve had meetings with multiple Designers, with titles of VP of Product Design, Senior Designers, Creative Directors and more.
This just goes to show that people are willing to provide mentorship and guidance if approached appropriately. Not only have I emailed Designers, but also Investment Banking Analysts, University Professors, Instagram Influencers and more. With each category, I’ve heard back in one way or another. It’s a matter of showing humility by wiling to ask for help. Out of all the emails that I’ve sent out, I would hear back from around 5%. It is seriously a numbers game; and thinking about it that way makes you less stress about the process.