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From Mentor to Mentee: What I learned from the AIGA Design Loop Program

Written by
Ashley Rundall
Published
May 10, 2017
Categories

I AM NOT A MENTOR.
I am the one that needs mentoring.
I don’t have much to offer a young designer.

These are the things I thought when Doug Timmermeyer suggested that I join the AIGA Design Loop Mentorship Program. But friends and co-workers convinced me to take a leap of faith, and I am so thankful that I did because I feel like I got just as much, if not more out of the program as a mentor than my mentee did.

I’LL GIVE IT A TRY.
After an intense game of “speed-dating” in which both the mentors and mentees ask direct questions such as what they wanted out of the program, where they want to go in the industry, what they had in common, etc., we each ranked who we connected with the most and were “matched.”

Soon after, my mentee and I met up and dove right in. We spoke about design, life, work, the past and the future and we looked at her portfolio. She asked me questions and I would answer – trying to openly share all of the knowledge that I could. I could easily see myself in her and truth be told, a lot of the struggles she was having as a designer with only a year of experience, I am still challenged by as a designer with ten years of industry experience under my belt. I realized what she needed is the encouragement and trust that I needed at her age.

WE BOTH HAVE ROOM TO GROW.
Throughout the program we met several times. I helped her make new connections, provided tips to help her prepare and present her work confidently, and helped her tighten up her portfolio. Eventually she landed a job and moved from in-house to an agency.

She gave me the gift of confidence – to see that I do have a lot to offer and give back to the design community and she also helped me grow as a mentor and a leader. I learned how to respect – while constructively critiquing – a designer’s point-of-view, how to provide criticism that encourages and edifies rather than directs, and I learned to allow designers to make and learn from mistakes because failure is one of the best ways to grow.

IT’S NOT OVER YET.
Soon after the program was over, I invited my mentee to work with me on a pro-bono project for the American Heart Association-Houston. Two years later, we continue to collaborate creatively on this effort and learn from each other’s insight.

Art Direction: Ashley Rundall; Design: Sofi Cruz

And from this impactful experience, I walk away with the knowledge that not only am I a mentor, but I am forever a mentee.

Written by Ashley Rundall

Ashley Rundall

My purpose in life and work is to EXPLORE. As a lifetime student, I believe that if you aren’t getting better, you’re getting worse. I constantly find myself being drawn to many different and completely random interests both professionally and personally.

As an art director at Savage Brands, I strive to be forward-thinking, collaborating and deadline-meeting, with a goal to break through the clutter with a clear and purposeful message and great design (all with a smile on my face).

I work closely throughout the life of a project and client relationship to ensure that I constantly understand the client’s industry, strategy and purpose to ensure that the team can deliver during every phase of the project. As an explorer I believe that being involved in every aspect of the process (from research through follow-up) that I can help built some of the strongest brands out there and revolutionize corporate America.

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