Lessons from Mentorship: Christina and Megan

The AIGA Maine Mentorship Program is intended to spark new relationships within Maine’s design community. Starting each February, AIGA Maine pairs emerging designers with seasoned professionals to share their experiences and work towards a set of career goals over the course of three months. Local designers Christina Hill and Megan McConagha participated in our 2015 program.

Set a Schedule
It is critical to treat each other, and the program, with respect. We suggest you create a schedule at the first meeting and stick to it. Our jobs are busy, and it’s natural to put our clients first and everything else second. But we found that our commitment to our sessions created momentum, a genuine connection, and even fueled extra communication between meetings.

Ask Any and All Questions
Neither of us had participated in a mentorship program before, and we were a little unsure how to start. But we let our curiosity about each other, our industry, and our local creative community carry the conversation. The questions that followed helped us determine our goals for the program. We began by defining Christina’s strengths and rethinking her website.

Loose Goals
Though we had a good sense of what we hoped to accomplish in our meetings, we kept things fluid. We began focusing on web design, and then moved into contracts, then managing clients. But the more we talked and explored, the more we realized what we were really doing was defining Christina’s brand. Though structure is effective, we found our openness and loose approach led us to a new, more impactful direction.

Include Others
By chance, one of our mentoring sessions overlapped with a meeting Megan was having with a colleague. The colleague ended up joining the mentoring meeting and gave Christina another perspective to consider as we tackled her branding. We found this helpful and felt at the end of the program that we wished we’d brought another colleague or two into the mix to share more ideas with Christina and to help her build her network.

Make it A Two-Way Street
Ours was not a black-and-white student and teacher scenario. We both shared our stories of what works for us, what doesn’t, what we fear, what we hope to achieve. One often thinks the mentee is the only one to grow and learn in these relationships, but the mentor has much to gain, as well. The fresh perspective, curiosity and idealism of the mentee was as valuable as the expertise and seasoned experience of the mentor.

Megan McConagha is the owner of 360 Uncoated
Christina Hill is a designer at Burgess Advertising

By Samantha Haedrich
Published February 3, 2016