In order to become masters at what we do, we need to dissect information and form opinions about the things we study. We need to add our touch to it, evolve it, and make it our own. Anyone who is extremely passionate about a subject is constantly learning more about it. There’s a sense of excitement with every discovery we make. As it relates to design, these things can be something as simple as uncovering a new shortcut in Photoshop, or something scientific like learning how to use better grids in our designs.
When we take this knowledge and the excitement that comes with it, and we share it with others, we’ve become teachers of the subject. You may not know you’re doing it, I never thought of it this way either, but telling your colleagues about the thing you just discovered is teaching. If you’re like me and find yourself doing this quite often, then with enough passion you could make for an excellent teacher.
The thought of holding classes for anyone interested in learning about design always crossed my mind. I wanted to test these ideas about teaching and an opportunity could not have come at a better time. I received an email from a colleague letting me know that Ladies Learning Code (LLC) were looking for designers experienced in Photoshop to mentor an upcoming workshop. This would be my first time mentoring a class and my first time getting involved with LLC, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Right away I acknowledged how well organized the people over at LLC are and how they do an excellent job ensuring things run smoothly. Emails were sent letting me know I had been selected as a mentor and a few days later class notes and working files were available in my inbox.
On Saturday January 25th, 2014 I made my way to The Lab (the LLC headquarters in Toronto) for my first ever mentoring experience. The class was titled “Introduction to Web Design” and it was being taught by Ricardo Vazquez (Product and iOS Designer at Freshbooks). Along with myself there were about 20 other mentors which allowed us to manage groups of 2 to 5 learners. My learners were quick to catch on and eager to move ahead of the rest of the class. I started to receive positive feedback from them and words of encouragement. They told me I was making things easy to understand and doing an excellent job with helping them. This is when I began to think that my earlier ideas of holding my own classes could happen one day.
Going into this workshop I wasn’t certain about why I should be a mentor. To be completely honest, I was doing it to do something related to design away from my desk. That could be enough reason for you to be a mentor, it was for me.
Coming out of it I now have a greater reason to continue mentoring. I want to become a master at my craft. I want to dissect it, evolve it, make it my own and share it with others. I look at designers that motivate me to create amazing things, and they’ve all put something out there for guys like me to download and mess with. In addition to that they’ve been extremely accessible and resourceful through conversations via email. It is truly inspiring to see masters of their crafts share their knowledge and experiences with the rest of us. I want to follow in these footsteps. I want to teach the things I know and I want to create things that other people will find resourceful so that one day I can say I gave just as much as I took from design.