The AIGA Chicago Mentorship Program gives creatives from across disciplines a place to gather and share insights, experiences and resources. With programming that supports any level of experience, we have collaborative mentor groups that develop a curriculum based on the community needs.

Our spring session is currently in progress. See the bottom of the page for details on our fall session.

How it works

Sessions of the mentor program are held over the course of 11 weeks on Tuesday evenings at various locations throughout Chicago. The program meets each week, alternating between your individual mentor groups (3/19, 4/2, 4/16, 4/30, 5/14), and our all-group events open to all Spring 2019 participants (3/12, 3/26, 4/9, 4/23, 5/7, 5/21). Bookended by our kickoff event and wrap-up party, we may have studio tours, designer talks, workshops, and portfolio reviews. Check out #AIGAChiMentor to get a snapshot of the program on Instagram.

The program is $30 for AIGA members, $55 non-members, and $15 for student members. There is also a hidden cost: your time! We ask that you commit your time to the full 11-weeks to make for the best experience for your whole group.

Participants work in a group of 5-8 mentees, comprising a spectrum of creative fields organized by shared interest and career level. At our kickoff session, you will have the opportunity to meet the mentors and choose your top three group choices. We then form groups by order of registration for the event until each group hits capacity. Here are this session’s topics and mentors:

Portfolio Improvement

Mentors (2 Groups):
Jeff Stanley, Lead Graphic Designer at Hollister Inc.

📹Meet Jeff and learn what to expect from from his session

OR

Hannah Rebernick, Senior Designer at The DuPuis Group and Ananta Prayitno, ACD at Golin

📹Meet Ananta and Hannah and learn what to expect from their session

SUGGESTED EXPERIENCE LEVEL: OPEN TO ALL
Whether it’s to find that new gig or seeing your own work in a new light, this group is all about your portfolio and you. We’ll be focusing on the nuts and bolts of portfolio refinement as well as improving your relationship with your own work as a way to better tell your story.

CMY-Kickstart Your Career

Mentor: Jenn Cheung, Strategy Director at Webb deVlam

📹Meet Jenn and learn what to expect from her session

SUGGESTED EXPERIENCE LEVEL: EARLY IN CAREER
Are you looking for your next big thing or wanting to expand where you are now? This series is all about creating tools to help you navigate what’s next, whether you already have something in mind or want to envision it while in this group.

Design Confidence

Co-Mentors: Christian Soloranzo, Designer at PwC and Nick Haas, Creative Director at PwC

📹Meet Nick and Christian and learn what to expect from their session

SUGGESTED EXPERIENCE LEVEL: EARLY IN CAREER or MID-LEVEL
This group will focus on building your creative confidence, which leads to better opportunities and ultimately to doing better work. We’ll be focusing on strengthening your voice as a creative, enhancing your presentation skills, managing feedback and crafting a strong brand that aligns with your core values.

Be a Better Freelancer

Mentor: Jack Muldowney, Founder and Designer at Studio Malt

📹Meet Jack and learn what to expect from his session

SUGGESTED EXPERIENCE LEVEL: OPEN TO ALL
This group, led by a working freelancer, helps those currently freelancing build better skills, or those looking to freelance with ways to get started. From pricing to getting yourself out there, you’ll walk away ready to work for yourself.

Getting Inspired in a New Place

Mentor: Chelsea Lee, Creative Director and Lead Instructor at Designation

📹Meet Chelsea and learn what to expect from her session

SUGGESTED EXPERIENCE LEVEL: OPEN TO ALL
How to push through imposter syndrome by getting inspired and finding community. We will explore the city searching for inspiration in uncommon places. This group is for people who are new to Chicago or just looking to feel more connected with the city and the Chicago design community.

Learning Leadership Skills

Mentor: Kenny Friedman, Senior Creative Director at Upshot

📹Meet Kenny and learn what to expect from his session

SUGGESTED EXPERIENCE LEVEL: MID-LEVEL or SENIOR
Are you an aspiring or current creative director looking to take the next step in your career and better manage your team? Most CDs are not taught HOW to manage, yet we have all had a good and a bad manager that molds our own leadership style. This group will help you discover your approach to management, while finding ways to manage the stress that comes with this responsibility.

Level Up

Mentor: Amy Reyes, Director of UX at Scientific Games

📹Meet Amy and learn what to expect from her session

SUGGESTED EXPERIENCE LEVEL: OPEN TO ALL
As we move through our careers, it’s easy to begin to look at design as “just a job,” show up, go through the motions as a sock puppet for other people’s half-baked ideas. BUT. What if you could snap outta the funk? For every night of the mentorship, there will be an industry talent to give a micro-workshop on their area of expertise. From Photoshop mastery to hand lettering and goal crushing. Open brain, cram as much knowledge in, repeat.

Craft and Handmade Techniques for New Design Thinking

Co-Mentors: Blanca Cortes, Freelance Graphic Designer and Illustrator; and Laura Mayer, Freelance Graphic Designer and Illustrator

📹Meet Laura and Blanca and learn what to expect from their session

SUGGESTED EXPERIENCE LEVEL: OPEN TO ALL
These days it’s hard to explore new techniques and new media that can be applied in the digital world. This group will focus on project-based and hands on instructional workshops in hand-lettering, bookmaking & self promotion with an emphasis on craft and process.

Design System Thinking

Co-Mentors: Rey Nungaray, Executive Creative Director at Critical Mass; and Aja Shamblee, Senior UX Designer at InVision

📹Meet Aja and Rey and learn what to expect from their session

SUGGESTED EXPERIENCE LEVEL: OPEN TO ALL
Do you want to learn how to think systematically, create a design system, and work with cross-functional teammates? In this group you’ll learn how to build consistent systems and to facilitate collaboration on your teams. With a mix of UI, UX, accessibility, design process, agile methods and selling your work, this group will be a mix of lecture and hands-on work.

UX Design Research

Mentor: Cate Kompare, Senior UX Research Consultant at Solstice

📹Meet Cate and learn what to expect from her session

SUGGESTED EXPERIENCE LEVEL: EARLY IN CAREER and MID-LEVEL
This group will focus on qualitative research methods and best practices on how to write effective questions for guides. We will also practice presentation skills, and the role they play as you think about your audience.

Product Design

Mentor: Masha Safina, Sr Product Designer at Popular Pays

📹Meet Masha and learn what to expect from her session

SUGGESTED EXPERIENCE LEVEL: MID-LEVEL and ADVANCED
What is Product Design (UX/UI)? With hands-on sessions, you’ll learn what product designers do, apply some of the tools and methods they use to solve real product problems, and leave with some cool work to show for it. (Mentees need a laptop and should know the basics of Sketch or be willing to learn Figma.)

Embracing the Open-ended Design Process

Mentor: Christian Nam, Senior UX Designer at Solstice

📹Meet Christian and learn what to expect from this session

SUGGESTED EXPERIENCE LEVEL: MID-LEVEL
Herbert Simon famously said a designer “devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.” But how do we change digital experiences into preferred ones? This group will give continuing UX professionals a venue to challenge their own UX theory and practice. Through weekly readings, discussions, cross-functional guests, and practical workshops, you will get a better approach to continue to hone your discipline.

Advancing as a UX Professional

Mentor: Kelly Noah, UX Director at Rightpoint

📹Meet Kelly and learn what to expect from her session

SUGGESTED EXPERIENCE LEVEL: ADVANCED
This group is for practicing experience designers to advance their abilities. We will discuss client presentations and relationships, who you collaborate with (and how!), forming insights that drive strategy, embracing all forms of data as part of storytelling and proof, being vulnerable and open to others, and resting your busy brain so the next great idea will come.

How to get involved

Our Fall 2019 Mentor Program will be open to mentees for registration in September. If you’d like to get involved as a mentor or mentee, let us know! We’ll add your name to the notification list for the next round. You can always keep up with the program via Facebook and Instagram (that’s where we’ll announce the next kick-off date).

Get in touch

Have questions? Hit up Mentorship Chair, Jen Lemerand, at lemerand@chicago.aiga.org.

SHOUT OUTS!

Thanks to Glantz Design for creating the visual identity and graphic for the Spring 2019 program. And thank you to Mess for volunteering their time, resources and workspace to create our mentor snapshot videos. They are all amazing!

Thank you to the full committee for making all of this happen: Jen Lemerand, Eric Irving. Leslie Presto, Megan Jackson, M’Elena Walker, Adrian Aguilar, Hayley Gallat, Melody Pohla, Sammy Hernandez and Yash Rastogi.