By Justin Kemp

Web design is a highly competitive field and it has become very popular in recent years. Experienced web designers take part in exciting projects, can work from different environments, and can have flexible careers.

These factors make website design a great field for a modern professional. However, like all careers, you need some guidance to get into the field. Hiring a mentor can be very helpful and ensure you have a good start to your career.

Mentors have the skill and industry experience needed to guide young professionals through this field. Mentors can also help you develop your web design skills faster.

However, it is important to hire the right web design mentor for the job. This article has some tips and tricks to help you find the perfect match.

1. Think About Why You Want a Mentor

This is one of the most important factors to consider before looking for a mentor. Why do you need one? How can they help you? Is there a gap in your skill set that you need to patch up?

If you have a clear idea of why you need a mentor, it will be easier to find one. You can study the mentor, consider their skill and experience, before determining if they can help you with your problem.

For example, if you want to start designing e-commerce websites but don’t know how to go about it, a mentor in that field will help. Some with experience in e-commerce website design will help you understand the design process as well as the common mistakes in this field.

2. Understand That a Mentor Isn’t a Teacher

Teachers teach you how to design and help you understand different concepts of web design. Mentors help you utilize what you have learned effectively in real-life situations. A mentor is like a parent who supplements their child’s education by offering their own guidance sometimes.

Mentors have a more hands-off approach, but that helps new web designers develop independence. They help build your confidence, encourage experimentation, and ensure you don’t make the same mistakes as they did.

If you understand the difference between a mentor and a teacher, you’ll be able to get into a very healthy partnership with the mentor. You won’t have any unrealistic expectations, which can help in the long run.

3. Look at the Mentor’s Past Work

It is a good idea to assess the mentor’s past work carefully before hiring them. In fact, this is a great way to find a mentor. So, if you stumble across a great website, look at the designer and visit their website to check their portfolio.

If you find the designs in their portfolio appealing, there’s no harm in contacting the prospective mentor directly. Express your appreciation and admiration for their work and ask if they would be willing to mentor you.

Looking at the mentor’s past work is the best way to find a reliable connection. You don’t want to waste time on mentors who aren’t very willing to help.

4. Have Respect for Time

Both mentor and mentee must respect each other’s time for this relationship to be successful. Mentors are highly successful individuals with well-established careers. They don’t really have much time on their hands to spare.

It’s not uncommon for mentors to take on too much or to become overbooked. That means they are likely to cancel appointments and postpone meetings. That’s just a waste of time and shows lack of respect for someone else’s time.

You should find a mentor who will respect your time and maintain appointments unless there’s an emergency.

It is also important to be similarly consistent. If you keep canceling appointments or causing problems to your mentor, you’ll lose their trust and mentorship.

5. Make Sure the Mentor Is Invested in You

Mentorship is about the student and not the mentor. While it is important to know and develop a two-way relationship with a mentor, you need to make sure they’re committed to your development. Here are some signs that will help you identify if a mentor is really invested in you:

  • They listen intently to what you have to say, especially during the first meeting.
  • Their focus is on you instead of themselves. They spend less time talking about their experiences and accomplishments and more on how they can help you.
  • They ask questions to understand you and your requirements better.
  • The mentor focuses on your work and offers honest critique during the first meeting.

If you notice all of the above-mentioned characteristics in your prospective mentor, they might be a perfect choice.

6. Look for People Who Are Active in the Industry

Web design isn’t like traditional fields that remain static for extended periods of time. It is a part of the Internet, which evolves constantly. A mentor who hasn’t be a part of the industry for a few years won’t be able to offer advice on the latest design concepts or technology.

Active web designers are in the thick of things. They’re present when new development happens, they have more hands-on experience with the latest technology, etc. This means they can offer advice on concepts beyond what’s available in books or online.

Find mentors who are still actively involved in design projects or mentors who oversee such projects regularly.

7. Choose Someone with Freelancing Experience

Whether you intend to get a corporate 9-to-5 job or not, it is important to make sure you get some freelancing experience under your belt. Freelancing can be a great secondary source of income and can help you out if you’re between jobs.

Freelancing isn’t easy. It is a path full of thorns and turns, which can cause an incredible amount of stress to new professionals. A mentor with freelancing experience can help you thrive in this environment.

Mentors with freelancing experience might even send a few clients your way to get you started.

If you’re self-taught and have no formal education in the web design field, a mentor can fill in the gaps. They can help you unlearn bad habits and refine your skills. That’s why it is worth the effort and the money to hire an experienced web design mentor.