I recently signed up to the Design Buddy scheme with The Arts University College in Bournemouth. This is where students gets a chance to be mentored with someone in their chosen(ish) industry.

I didn’t get this kind of opportunity while I was at University, so I jumped at the chance to lend a hand. Design Buddies, run by Neil Leonard, partners students with suitable mentors, assessing what skills the student will need to brush up on and what they need to know about venturing into the big wide world of “The Web”.

Rather unconventionally, I’ve been partnered with an illustration student. I do dabble in illustration, but we were both initially confused about being allocated to each other. After a couple of minutes discussion though we realised that my student is looking at becoming a freelancer initially and needed help with his brand and his website.

The design buddy requirements are intended to be easy enough for both student and professional to commit to by allowing for four one hourly meetings during the course of 6 months.

We’ve already been through my student’s aspirations for his new website and it has really helped me evaluate everything I and 2nd Floor needs to consider when specifying a website. There are lots of aspects of the job I now do which come as second nature and it has already been an eye opener detailing everything my student needs to do to get himself out there.

I guess, I’ve always been keen on helping others, when I used to work as a Studio Manager it was part of my job, but a part I enjoyed immensely, something I would have committed more time too if I could have. Deadlines being deadlines, that wasn’t always possible.

I do still lightly mentor some past employees, every now and then. One of the reasons I started up this blog was to put down my experiences, right or wrong, so that others could learn from them.

I’ve recently received an email from someone I met at last year’s Heart&Sole and a completely separate email from someone planning on switching to freelance looking for advice – and I’m happy to help. Now I work for myself, my time is my own (to some degree) and I can choose to spend time helping others which is a great position to be in.

One thing I would say, if you’re new to the industry, want to change careers, jobs or just have a chat, us web folk are usually pretty keen to help and advise, it certainly is a great community.

I’m looking forward to continuing on the design buddy scheme and seeing what my student comes up with for our next meeting. In the meantime, if anyone needs any pointers, please don’t be afraid to drop me an email or tweet me.