How to SHINE in Design: Big Questions on Work-Life Balance

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: Chelsae Blackman | Mentee: Jaime Bourne

My name is Jamie Bourne, and I participated in the SHINE 2016 mentorship program. What pushed me to apply was the unique opportunity to connect with people in the design community, in a way that could be more meaningful than a typical happy hour or lecture. I had three goals in mind: to meet people, to become better and to have fun.

Chelsae Blackman and Jaime Bourne present their SHINE project on work-life balance.

Chelsae Blackman and Jaime Bourne present their SHINE project on work-life balance.

My mentor Chelsae Blackman and I were paired because we are both web designers. I am also an aspiring screen printer by night, and Chelsae is a screen printing veteran.

The project that we collaborated on during the four-month program was a survey on work-life balance. This has been on my mind lately. How much time I should spend trying to improve as a designer, and how much time I can spend just being a person? The survey covered questions that ranged from the value of side projects to the definition of a successful design career. We found that while most people believe that side projects can be important to better yourself in your career, they also believed that taking time for yourself is paramount.

We asked “How do you define a successful career?” Answers broke down into categories that aligned with four of the American psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: safety, belonging, esteem and self-actualization. These translated to: a job that pays the bills; a solid portfolio; designing for good through social causes; and a job that makes you happy. But when it came down to how we unwind, what motivates us, and what makes us happy, it seems that we’re pretty similar. Most of the people who participated in the survey would be happy to blow off steam by simply indulging in chocolate, wine and Netflix. After meeting a few times to discuss the survey results, Chelsae and I designed a poster and screen printed around 50. We gave away the finished pieces at the SHINE finale with all of the participants’ names at the top.

An Unexpected Outcome
One surprise during the SHINE mentorship was that I changed jobs. The program inspired me to challenge myself and look for a position in an area of design that I was most interested in. Chelsae was instrumental in my job search, having just switched jobs herself. She provided additional insight into negotiating a salary, connecting me to new job forums and sharing strategies she’s used in the past.

Jaime Bourne screen prints the work-life balance survey results.

Jaime Bourne screen prints the work-life balance survey results.

The great thing about SHINE is that even after I was paired with my mentor, there was no shortage of people to learn from. There were 19 other mentors who were usually willing to chat or review a portfolio.

So what were my takeaways? You’re never too far along in your career to benefit from a portfolio review. You should always reach out to new mentors while maintaining existing relationships. It’s easier to stay motivated to work on a side project when you’re surrounded by talented people who are doing the same thing. Lastly, doing something that’s outside your comfort zone can be a little awkward at first, but once you get over that initial hump, the pros far outweigh the cons.

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with my experience in the 2016 SHINE mentorship program. I made lasting connections in the design community, learned a new skill, gained new insights, got a new job, and most of all, had fun doing it.

By Chelsae Blackman and Jaime Bourne
Published November 20, 2016