Custom Career Advice is Awesome

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

ADPlist.org is a free platform that allows you to have a one-on-one or group mentor sessions with world-class mentors. The process is as follows: you search a mentor you’d like to speak, you pick an available time slot, you write a motivation letter to explain why you’d like to have a mentor session with them and you wait for a response. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

It was my first time so it was quite exciting. You don’t get to talk to someone you look up to everyday. The mentor I chose was Scott Jenson. I was following him for quite a bit now and I really enjoy his articles on his personal blog, besides that he has an amazing list of work history and experience. So I gave it a shot. I explained what I’m currently doing and which struggles and questions are tormenting me at the moment in my motivation letter to Scott. You can only Google that much right? Every person’s story is different. And having a unique personal story is great, as Jeff Gothelf explains in his book ‘Forever Employable‘. But in this case it’s a burden, because of the unique personal background and story it’s impossible to get answers to your pressing career questions just by Googling around. So there’s where my personal user need comes in which ADPList got an answer for and where Scott is one of the willing volunteers to help fellow UX designers in their career.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Scott provided time slots of 45 minutes. So I prepared some questions as suggested by an email I got from ADPlist. During the mentoring session, I was really grateful that I had taken the time to write down these questions, because when you are using all your cognitive energy, you are in a flow state and it is difficult to pick up your pressing questions at the right time.

Now, what was the advice?

All my questions came down to the same thing: how can I be sure that I have a future-proof career? To give you a bit of context, I don’t have a bachelor’s degree, so my biggest concern is that I’ll hit some kind of career barrier because I don’t have a bachelor’s degree, regardless of the years of experience in the future. So for example, if my goal is to land a job at Google, I’m worried that I won’t have a chance because of this.

I was hoping to get a vague guideline for my career, but Scott exceeded all expectations. I was planning to start on a new bachelor degree at the Open University. There are two possibilities that are inline with UX, one is Psychology with a focus on clinical psychology and the other is Information Science which has a lot to do with UX but is very technology focused. Thanks to Scott I was able to get a better estimation whether or not it would be worth the effort. The conclusion was no, not for me. Doing a bachelor degree besides my current job, can be interesting and fun to do, but it won’t bring a significant contribution to my career. There are better ways to spend my time in my career than to go back to university. After all, it is a tough challenge: studying for two hours a day, for six years, with a full-time UX job and a family.

Besides, as Scott told me, I already did the hardest part of a UX professionals career: landing my first UX job. Moreover, I just landed my second UX job. So I am safe to say that I placed myself on the UX job market with the experience I currently have. For me personally, it is better to focus on learning on the go and T-shape in as many categories as possible, whether they are small or large. Companies want a UX designer that is able to do that 10% extra: “You work in a team that doesn’t like UI? Sure why not, I can help!” or “Your front-end developer is sick and you need to do a small job in front-end coding for a prototype? I can help!”. Another example: “You have been hired by a company that is starting its own UX team? Of course I can help build one for you!”. These are assets that make a UX designer worth his money. This is why companies look for UX designers with work experience. Don’t get me wrong, I believe a university degree is totally worth it, if I could do my life over, I would definitely get my degree. But in my current situation, it is not the best way to go.

A small thank-you note to Scott and ADPList

There were more things Scott mentioned during the mentor session that are more personal. It’s amazing how much in-depth advice you can get during these 45 minutes. For me, the ADPList platform is a great solution that is much needed in the world. It takes the search for online career advice to the next level. There might be other platforms as well, I don’t know. But ADPList works and that’s what matters. Finally, I would like to thank Scott Jenson, for giving me thoughtful and crystal clear answers to all my pressing questions that I have been asking myself for a long time. I know exactly what to do and what is important to take myself to the next level and beyond. Thank you Scott, your advice is a life changer.