How to SHINE in Design: Be Brave, Be Grateful

SHINE is a four-month mentoring program designed to fertilize the career growth and professional success of emerging designers. Mentors and mentees will come together and work hand-in-hand to identify the mentee’s career goals and aspirations. Then over the next four months, mentors will provide advice and guidance as they show their mentees the ropes. AIGA DC is accepting applications for SHINE through Dec. 2. Read more about SHINE and apply here.

Not sure what to expect? We’re sharing some testimonials from SHINE mentors and mentees, so you can hear what real designers gleaned from this program.

Mentor: Heather Ryan  |  Mentee: Phim Her

Hello! Heather and Phim here. It’s crazy to think that the SHINE mentorship program was only four months long. In that time, we’ve had our fair share of check-ins over soup, pizza, frozen yogurt — and of course, many rounds of discussion about design thinking, challenges, aspirations, and how to lead meaningful lives in and out of the work place. Here are some insights that we took away from our experience:

Everyone wins. A successful mentor-mentee team plays and wins together. Each challenge is a lesson learned, and each triumph is a shared victory.

Listen first. This is a good rule of thumb for mentees in particular. Take advantage of the time that you have together and make the most of it. Try to soak up as much information as you can from your mentor. You never know when their stories and advice will come in handy. Being an earnest listener also shows that you value your mentor’s time and perspective.

Come prepared. Questions, ideas, concepts, sketches, half-baked projects on your laptop. You may not get through the whole list, but the point of this exercise is about preparing and organizing your thoughts before meetings.

Be fearless and open-minded. Use your conversations as an opportunity to bounce ideas off one another. Explore different concepts and alternative ways of thinking. And most of all, don’t be scared to voice an opinion or to share something that you makes you feel uncertain or uncomfortable. We felt like kindred spirits early on because we were honest and open about sharing our experiences in and out of the workplace. It gave us a 360° view of one another, and it allowed us to see where design fit into both of our lives. You only get what you put in, so be brave and transparent to get the most out of your experience.

Be supportive and grateful. Our project was based on a shared interest: meditation and mindfulness in and out of the work place. It almost didn’t happen because Phim wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. But Heather stepped in and gave a strong vote of confidence, along with thorough advice and feedback about how to make the concept stronger and more original. All it takes is a few words to say “I hear you, I see what you’re thinking — keep at it!” Follow that up with a sincere “Thank you!” Gratitude never goes out of style.

Watch Phim’s presentation “Flow State: Meditation on Creativity vs. Productivity.” Be sure to check out more details on AIGA DC’s SHINE mentoring program and apply by Dec. 2.

By Heather Ryan and Phim Her
Published November 8, 2016