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Getting involved with students to help prep them for the big, bad world of design

January 26, 2012

Tuesday night I was fortunate to get involved with a great AIGA program called Mentorship Match Up, the kick off being held at the coolest church around, Warehouse 242. (If you’re not from my industry, AIGA is America’s oldest and leading association for design students and professionals.) My Saturday partner in crime and senior art director, John Howard, joined me for the gig. (As such, I suspected the evening would be fun and end up at a drinking establishment. Correct on both.)

AIGA Mentor match up logoThe goal of Mentor Match Up is worthy: match-make the experienced with the emerging, one-on-one, for a few months of tutoring, guidance, collaboration, networking, portfolio critiquing, general exposure to the bad-ass, real world of design and advertising, and God knows whatever else. The best part about the concept is that it’s really open-ended, ensuring a truly personalized experience benefitting both the mentee and mentor. As I said in a brief address to help kick the night off, this is a program that could have saved me a few missteps in my early career.

The AIGA Charlotte team really did the event right, drawing a good crowd (including an impressive group of experienced mentors), providing noshables and mixing up the evening with a few different activities. First off, everyone was matched by way of aliases. Mario and Luigi. Cookies and Milk. Mine was Michael Jordan, so I knew who to look for. I searched out “Scotty,” AKA Edwin, and we had a chance to chat briefly about the possibilities that lay ahead with the mentorship. Good friend and dedicated AIGA Charlotte leader, Tim Rebich, Adams Outdoor, invited me to share something from my own history. I did so with a small collection of tweet-sized observations. Things I’ve learned — or learned to believe — that I would have liked to hear when I was entering the business.

To wake people up after my presentation, we had a spirited session of speed dating; one minute to meet a student or recent grad and talk about an issue, answer a question, or just chat. This was fun, although my short-term visitors and I kept going over the time limit, eliciting cranky looks from John who, to the right of me, was routinely left waiting. I never could meet a deadline.

Watch for future posts about how this thing plays out.

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