Mentorship

by {"name"=>"Aaron Gustafson", "twitter"=>"AaronGustafson", "googleplus"=>"AaronGustafson"} on 09 January 2017

I didn’t get to where I am in my life and career on my own. I have a ton of respect and admiration for the folks who’ve helped and mentored me along the way. Molly Holzschlag took me under her wing and taught me so much about public speaking and selflessly working for a better Web. Jeffrey Zeldman made a place for me at A List Apart, heavily influenced my writing, invited me onto his team at Happy Cog, and has both supported and promoted my work for well over a decade now. Jeremy Keith collaborated with me early on and has provided invaluable guidance to me over the years. And these are but a few of the dozens upon dozens of folks I owe my career to and, if I’m being honest, helped me discover my passion.

Recognizing all of this, I’ve made a concerted effort to “pay it forward” by finding opportunities for others to hone their craft and improve as professionals. In some cases it’s been recommending them as conference speakers, introducing them to publishers, recommending them for jobs, asking them to collaborate on projects, or simply providing advice and guidance for their careers or their companies. To date, most of these efforts have been one-offs. For a while now I’ve been wanting to work more intensely with one person, but I needed to get settled into my relatively new role at Microsoft (as well as my new role as a father) first.

I’m ready now.

I am looking for someone to mentor in 2017. If you’re interested in working with me throughout the year, I’m accepting “applications” for the slot through the end of January. As of right now, I’m only comfortable committing to one mentee for 2017, but once I see how it’s going, I may opt to take on additional mentees in the future.

What are you looking for in a mentee?

To me, it doesn’t matter to me where you are in your career… no matter how long we’ve been doing something, there’s always room for improvement. When I think about my ideal mentee, I’m looking for someone who’s passionate about the Web and who I think I can do some good for. I don’t care how young or old you are or how long you’ve worked on the Web. I firmly believe we can always benefit from a mentorship.

Similarly, it doesn’t matter to me where you live nor does it matter to me how good your English is (though it’s probably better than you give yourself credit for). If you happen to be local to the Southeastern U.S. or somewhere I’m traveling over the next year, we’ll definitely spend some time getting together in person, but that is by no means a requirement. Email… Skype… Hangouts… I’m happy to work with you no matter where you are.

How do I apply?

In order to apply, all I ask is that you write a public post somewhere on the Web that discusses why you love the Web, where you’re at in your career, and what your goals are for the coming year. I’m not looking for a particular length or anything, just trying to get a sense of you, your passions, and your interests.

Once you’ve done that, use this site’s contact form to send me the link, along with a brief write-up as to why you’d like me to mentor you. In particular I’m interested to hear where our passions overlap and how you think I can help you. I want to make sure we are a good fit. And be honest… if you want me as a mentor because of the connections I have, say that; I appreciate honesty.

Anyway, that’s it. No big hoops to jump through. I’ll keep the lines open through Tuesday, January 31st in whatever your local timezone is. I look forward to getting to know you and taking one of you under my wing this year.