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Mentoring an MA student

Here's my story of mentoring a graphic design student a few years ago.

Photo of Nathan Waterhouse
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A few years back, when I was living in San Francisco, I was asked to mentor a student from a design school there. He was doing his masters degree and working on a project for helping people with autism. 

We would meet each week to review his work, and I'd offer advice and support. It never felt like a burden and I enjoyed the opportunity to help a younger design professional. I was also learning something new too – about the world of autism, and I found my approach of how to add value and coach him got refined over time too. I think that's a skill that has stayed with me now as a manager.

After he successfully graduated he emailed me a few times for other advice. For instance he was asked to give a talk at a big conference so I gave him some advice on ways to approach his talk and how to avoid the stage fright. 

It was great to see him grow and evolve. I felt responsible which was daunting and I worried that my advice might not be the right thing for the way he might get evaluated. However he did really well and got a job soon after graduating. 

We haven't really stayed in touch but after writing this I'm going to reach out and see how he's doing. I found his new website, check it out his work is great. Suddenly that sense of responsibility had returned ;)

In line with this challenge, I'm going to try to challenge myself to see if my 92 year old neighbour needs any help with anything.

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Photo of Meena Kadri

As someone on the OpenIDEO that you manage – one of the aspects I have always loved about working with you is your enabling approach (over a top down one) When I think about intergenerational mentoring, this seems like a great thing for both parties to consider. Think back to when you were at school... were your favourite teachers enabling and encouraging? I bet they were! I'm excited about folks here thinking about how we might nurture this approach as we approach our upcoming Ideas phase...