5 Questions to Ask Your UX Mentor

Having a UX mentor can work wonders for one’s design career. Seasoned user experience professionals can offer unique insights into the industry, give constructive feedback, share career setback stories and help budding UX designers craft a career plan. In many instances, developing a mentorship relationship with a seasoned UX designer or researcher can be beneficial for one’s career development and one’s personal growth as well. So, if you have a mentor to help you reach your UX design or user research career goals, consider yourself lucky and keep reading! Here are 5 questions to ask your UX mentor.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Get to know your mentor by asking about their career goals, setbacks, and successes.
  • Request a critique to get an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. 
  • Ask your mentor to help you create a new portfolio or improve upon an existing one.

1. What made you pursue a UX career?

Before you ask for specific advice, it’s important to understand why your mentor got into the UX industry in the first place. Most folks are excited to talk about their career success, job transitions over the years, and even their moments of doubt. When you ask your mentor this question or something along these lines, you’ll likely deepen the connection and level of trust between the two of you. So, don’t be shy. Just stay alert and responsive as they share their story. 

Alternative questions to ask your mentor:

  • Who inspired you to pursue a career in user experience?
  • How did you land the position at [company name]?
  • What UX courses did you study before applying to your current position?

2. How do I attract employers with my UX portfolio?

During your mentoring sessions, it’s absolutely fine to focus some of your attention on building your portfolio – you are seeking career advice, after all. So, ask your mentor about how to make your existing portfolio better or create one if you are just getting started.

Portfolios are extremely important in the design industry – whether you practice graphic design, interaction design, or anything in between, portfolios are a must! So, seek advice from your mentor on how to prepare a portfolio that will impress a potential employer. 

Alternative questions to ask your mentor:

  • What should I include in my UX portfolio?
  • Can you give me feedback on my current UX portfolio?
  • What do employers look for in a UX design portfolio?

3. Where do you think my greatest strengths lie and where could I improve? 

Want to know what your strengths are from an outsider’s perspective? Ask your mentor for a critique! Getting an evaluation of one’s skills can help when preparing for an interview, career fair, or starting your first job. 

Alternative questions to ask your mentor:

  • Can you please give me feedback on…? (provide context)
  • How would you rate my current work?
  • Can you give me an honest critique?
a woman with red painted fingernails types on a laptop keyboard, possibly taking notes after meeting with a UX mentor

4. If I want to grow my UX career rapidly, what skills do I need to develop?

For those of you that want to accelerate your career, a mentor might be able to help get you on the right track. You just need to know the right questions to ask. Try this one to see what educational resources your mentor provides or what assessments they have to aid you in your career growth. 

Alternative questions to ask your mentor:

  • Which technical skills are imperative to those entering the UX industry?
  • What skills do you use in your daily UX practice?
  • How can I prepare for a career in UX?

5. Should I study or pursue…? (cross-checking career goals)

Before your sessions come to a close with your UX mentor, make sure you share your future career plan. By cross-checking your career goals, you’ll be able to gain valuable insight into the industry’s trajectory. Keep in mind that while your mentor may not have all the answers (especially given the rapidly growing UX industry); their experience can serve as inspiration for your own career decisions. 

Alternative questions to ask your mentor:

  • As a beginner in UX, what tools or books should I explore to improve my skills?
  • After reviewing my career plan, do you think it is realistic or feasible for this industry?
  • I plan to study X [UX course]. Do you think this course material will still be relevant in the next 5-10 years?