Seeking a new mentor

The purpose of this post is a letter to Aaron Gustafson who is offering to mentor a couple people over the next year. I have always admired the design community for the way people give back. And I’m hoping I can take advantage of Aaron’s generosity.

Dear Aaron,


You asked the following questions: Why do you love the Web? What do you love about working on the Web? What are your goals for the coming year of your career?

Here are my answers. I started college at Virginia Tech in 1993. We were one of the first wired campuses complete with Eudora email, access to the Netscape web browser and I also have a vague memory of some early type of message board application. I surfed the ‘net every free minute between classes, DJing radio shows and studying. I suppose by nature of the beast, I haven’t stopped surfing since.

Most of my current web-time consists of: researching for work, using design software for work, listening to podcasts, reading my twitter timeline (although I’m currently on a twitter break and missing it madly), reading articles people post to Twitter, reading food blogs and saving recipes, organizing recipes and meal plans through my recipe manager app, talking to/reading posts from other design and tech people on Slack, looking for new clothes, new shoes, new beauty products and putting things in and taking things out of my Amazon cart. Oh! And since I’m a cord cutter, watching streaming television. Almost every activity in my day involves the world wide web. I love the Web because the Web is how life works now, and I've been there since its infancy.

I love working on the Web because the things I do help people, and that’s my whole aim in life-- to help people. The kind of help I offer today, through my day-job, might be as simple as re-designing a form so it’s easier to understand. It's a less painful and more efficient task than it used to be. This re-designed form could help streamline someone's workday. And I know that for the people who are filling out that form, I’m making a small difference in their lives. But I want more. I want to use my growing skills to make a more meaningful difference for people. Ideally within the healthcare system or with a local city government. I see other, more experienced designers wielding their powers in this way, and I want to too.

But first, I am a mid-life, mid-career transitioner. I’ve been employed as a user experience designer for 2.5 years. I want to use the next year to keep building my skills. My immediate career goals include: keep learning all the UX, writing more, speaking more, and building a smashing portfolio. I recently started my second UX position at a consultancy. I know that I can do all that I listed above without your help. But, I would like to get to my next step faster with your help, I would love your guidance. Thank you, and I look forward to chatting with you more!