Why mentoring’s for life (not just for uni)

Mentoring is a powerful tool throughout your career, says Katie Cadwell, a designer at DesignStudio in Sydney. Here she talks about how you can get it started, and what makes for the most fruitful mentor/mentee relationship

It’s important to be humble as a designer. Pretty soon after leaving the security of university, you realise that the learning doesn’t end there. It’s probably what keeps the job so interesting. There will always be a new team, client or technology to learn from.

But there’s an untapped resource of learning in the creative industry that accounts for all the biggest lessons and turning points in my career. And the premise is simple – be a mentor, and be mentored. From now until the day you hang up your Moleskine.

While a good boss is important, it’s naïve to expect to feel supported by them all the time. Particularly in larger teams when you’re competing with others for that energy. When you have a mentor, there’s someone else to back you. That feeling of advocation is powerful. Taking a network approach to your support takes the pressure off finding that elusive perfect boss.

That’s not to say all the benefits fall to the mentee — I’ve learnt much more sat on the opposite side of the table. Mentoring adds an incredibly rich perspective to your work (and life) that often goes under-celebrated.