DesignSojourn offers a Mentoring Program

I have recently in the start of 2009 started following and reading a lot of RSS feeds via Google Reader, and wow am I overwhelmed (in a good way) with design information, inspiration, and work that is out there!

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Of particular note are the great posts, advice, and information shared by Brian Ling of DesignSojourn. As a design manager at Philips Design in Singapore, Brian is constantly sharing insight into design. Brian recently decided to start a Designer Mentorship program that is currently accepting 5 mentees. So with that said, here goes my post in applying to be part of his program:

In the past year, I’ve been struggling with myself. What do I want to do? Where do I want to be in life? How do I get wherever that is?

I’ve been actively seeking out and figuring out the answers to these questions, thinking about what it is I want out of my career in design by attending design events, workshops, shows + exhibits and trying to meet more people in the design field. On top of getting out there, I’m constantly searching for ways to improve my design thinking and knowledge with webinars, books, blogs, and seeking an online community. See the communities I belong to on my Google Profile (I’m working on adding information to each site!)

You can see my everyday observations on Posterous and life musings on Twitter. My interest in photography lives on Flickr. And of course you can see from this blog that travel and cuisine (on top of design) are important to me. Travel often provides a fresh perspective for me (see some recent photos on Picasa). I find all these activities, not only shape me as a person, but also as a designer in being sympathetic to others, honing my eye for observation and mind in articulating needs, while also understanding and learning about culture, particularly its relation to design. Now, what I struggle with is filtering all this information and applying and combining it with a life that integrates professional life and personal life that is in line with the same values.

I have been seeking out a mentor and am in need of some guidance to push me in my early career development. I would truly value this opportunity presented by Brian if selected. One-on-one guidance is something that I have yet to find in my current professional network.

I struggle with design as ‘doing good’. I have this huge desire to do good through design and although I love all the consumer products that are out there, design is more than the ‘object’ or the ‘thing’. I want to drive my career into true fulfillment. Designers have this responsibility in today’s world to be thoughtful and considerate in the objects we produce- not only to enhance the everyday experience, but also to consider how products will affect us in the long term (post-consumer). I’m sure I don’t need to elaborate on this any further.

My search for guidance in my career is to not only develop my mind, but also to develop my skills. You can see some of my student work on my Coroflot site. I was never the best sketcher in school and realize that I won’t yet win any competitions, but I’m pushing myself to sketch more and more, as it is ‘a way to communicate ideas’. But this is hard, not having the support, guidance, and daily collaboration.

You can also see the outline of my work experience on LinkedIn and that I’ve been at my current job for just over a year and a half. I want to help people. Designing medical products can certainly fulfill that desire to ‘do good,’ but I need guidance in expressing the importance of design as more than aesthetics to my colleagues. I’m the only industrial designer at AliMed (and a recent graduate, at that), working with engineers and marketers on a daily basis. I’m not sure of how to navigate these rough and rocky waters. With a little push and direction, not provided under my current situation, I could educate others and inspire them with all the things that design and the design process can accomplish in financial terms for the company and happiness for the consumers.

My complete passion and dedication to design is in need of some help in order to do the best I know I can and am capable of. I’m constantly thinking of my next step in my career, but how can I figure that out without knowing what I truly am working towards? I don’t want to just go through the motions. I want to work with and collaborate with people as passionate and excited with their work as I am. Design is not just a way to bring a paycheck home and put food in my mouth, of course that helps, but my search in making my professional and personal values truly integrated is why I love design.

Now the question is, how does one accomplish this integration and inspire others that this outcome can be beautiful (in every sense of the word)? For this I am seeking Brian Ling as a mentor.

Thanks for reading my post! At the very least, this was some great personal reflection for me. 🙂

EDIT: Congrats to the lucky inductees!

3 Responses to “DesignSojourn offers a Mentoring Program”

  1. Hey Tiffany,Great read.

    I think as designers, it’s difficult to make a name for ourselves, specially for designers who start. It is OK to ask questions, and to seek help, most students and graduates don’t. We don’t have all the answers, but once we find what we are passionate about, we can’t get enough of it.

    When I finished school, I started freelancing, which lasted 6 months, until I ran out of money..:) With the help of my teachers I got a full time job, but the dream of freelancing never died. So I did freelance part time for ten years, and here I go again at it, because of the layoffs, and I think it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me.

    I can’t tell you what to do, life doesn’t come with a user manual.:) But perhaps, keeping your contacts alive and your network bigger and better should help you out. Because it’s not what you know, but who you know, specially in 2009!

    Good luck!

  2. A says:

    Wow, great stuff. In your search for inspiration, you’ve just inspired me. Mission (partly) accomplished?

  3. Allen says:

    Nice essay. Good luck with the application. 🙂

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