Mentorship 2018

If you follow my work, you may recall that I started a formal mentorship program last year. I had the great privilege of working with two incredibly talented peopleAmberley Romo and Manuel Matuzović—for a little over a year and enjoyed the hell out of the experience.

I had hoped to kick off a new mentorship session in January, but (as often happens) life got in the way. Now that I’m settled into a new city and a new routine, I’m itching to get things going again. And so I ask: How can I help you develop or further your career on the web?

What am I looking for in a mentee?

Whether you aspire to work on the web or you’re a veteran of the browser wars, if you think you could benefit from mentorship, I’d like to help. My ideal mentee is someone who’s passionate about the web and is—perhaps most of all—someone who I believe I can help.

To that end, my skills and knowledge will probably be most helpful to people interested in any or all of the these:

  • writing,
  • speaking,
  • designing/developing on the front end (but not with frameworks),
  • improving their UX skills,
  • championing accessibility, and
  • developing progressive web apps.

I’ve got scads of other interests and skills too, but those are probably the ones I’m most confident I can help with.

You don’t need to live near me or even in the same hemisphere. If you happen to be local to the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. or live somewhere that I’m traveling to over the next year, we’ll definitely meet in person, but that’s by no means a requirement. I’m based in the Pacific time zone (Seattle, Washington), but I’ll do my best to coordinate a regular time for us to chat that won’t require you hopping on Skype at two in the morning (unless that’s your thing). Email… Skype… Hangouts… I’m happy to work however you’re comfortable.

I’m afraid I don’t speak any languages other than English,[1] so that artificially restricts the pool of folks I can work with, but don’t worry if you don’t think your English is great. Honestly, it’s probably better than you give yourself credit for. It’s also 100% guaranteed to be better than my attempts at speaking pretty much any language other than English.

Who should apply?

Much of my work over the past twenty-plus years has been concentrated in the areas of accessibility and, more broadly, inclusive design. To create a web that can go anywhere and work for anyone, we need a diverse group of people making it happen. Sadly, our industry has a difficult time recruiting, developing, and, most importantly, retaining a diverse workforce. Given the egalitarian ideals that the web was founded on, that’s a travesty.

I want to see more diverse faces working on the web, speaking at conferences, writing articles, and getting promoted into leadership positions in design, UX, and development. And so this year I’m doing things a little differently: I will only be taking applications from folks who self-identify as part of an underrepresented group. Out of respect for your privacy, I’m not requiring that you label yourself in any particular way, but I do ask that you check your privilege and refrain from applying if you’re part of a group that is already heavily represented in our industry (such as white cis males).

What’s the application process?

Like last year, the application process is not meant to be challenging or time-consuming. I’d like you to write a public post somewhere on the web—such as on your blog, Medium, Twitter, or Mastodon—that discusses why you love the Web, what you love about working on it (or aspire to work on), and what your goals are for the coming year of your career. I’m not looking for any particular length; I’m trying to get a sense of you, your passion, and where your interests lie. I love seeing people publicly gush about why they love the web, but, if you’re more of a private person, you can write it in a non-public document stored somewhere on the web that you can share with me (such as on DraftIn, Google Drive, OneDrive, or Dropbox).

Once you’ve done that, use this site’s contact form to send me the link, along with a brief note about why you’d like me as a mentor. Again, I’m not looking for any particular length, but I would appreciate it if you you could touch on where our passions overlap and how you think I can help. I want to make sure we’re a good fit. And please 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. If that feels like too much writing and you’d rather speak to me in real-time, please drop me a line and say as much. I’d be happy to set up a time to chat.

Can you nominate someone?

If you know someone who you think would be a good fit for this, please nominate them! All I ask is that you introduce us with some context. The easiest (but most public) way is to @-message us both on Twitter. If you’d rather keep it private, you can kick off a DM thread with us if your nominee is on Twitter too (my DMs are open) or start the conversation by dropping me a note through the contact form on this site or sending me a message on any of the various platforms I frequent (Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on).

I look forward to working with you (or your friend)!

I’ll keep the lines open through Tuesday, in whatever your local timezone is. I met a ton of amazing folks last year through this process and got to work with two outstanding human beings. I truly look forward to getting to know you and taking one or two of you under my wing.


  1. In hindsight, studying Latin in high school wasn’t the best choice. Oh well. ↩︎


Webmentions

  1. Susanna D. Kline
    You are amazing for giving back! I don’t think i"m far enough along in my development learning journey to make it beneficial for me or worthwhile to you, but I’ve tagged this for a future mentorship cycle. Thank you for what you do.
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  2. Aaron Gustafson
    It’s never to early to work with a mentor. Please apply!
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  3. Angela Colter
    Aaron is, like, the literal best.
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  4. Desirée Zamora García
    If you're looking for mentorship, this is your chance:
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  5. Dona Sarkar
    If you are an underrepresented minority and are interested in web apps and/or inclusive design, this is an incredible opportunity. Aaron is an amazing mentor and very, very authentic and giving. Please retweet to expand the network. twitter.com/aarongustafson…
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  6. Deborah Edwards-Onoro
    You don't want to miss this opportunity! https://t.co/EDyOi1j2rt
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  7. zeldman
    Mentoring isn’t a great thing, it’s the greatest thing. Mentees think we do it for them, but I always get more than I give. If you’re looking for help in your career, the wonderful @AaronGustafson is for you. He’s the best. So are you. Go for it!
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  8. zeldman
    Mentoring isn’t a great thing, it’s the greatest thing. Mentees think we do it for them, but I always get more than I give. If you’re looking for help in your career, the wonderful @AaronGustafson is for you. He’s the best. So are you. Go for it!
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  9. Benoit Ranque
    Sounds interesting, but I’m not sure I’m quite there yet and I’m definitely not part of an underepresentrd group. Maybe next time? In the mean time have a follow, and thanks for giving back to the comunity!
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  10. Sami Ali Delgado
    I’m a UI developer learning JavaScript vanilla for becoming a good frontend, and eager to learn more my career, like accessibility…would I be able to join the mentorship and what is the price of this service?
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  11. Aaron Gustafson
    Take a look at the link and see if it’s a fit for you. It’s free.
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  12. Jess Rudder
    I think this might be a fantastic fit for you, @tracypholmes - you're passionate about programming, super hard working, and technology is only going to get better as a result of you growing and expanding in your career!
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  13. Jem Young
    This is a fantastic opportunity
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  14. Sami Ali Delgado
    Thanks Aaron, in my case am not part of an under represented minority or group, so I guess I may not fit on it.
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  15. Aaron Gustafson
    Yeah, not this go ’round.
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  16. User Defenders podcast
    One of the kindest, smartest, most generous souls I know in this field. Wow, what an opportunity, Defenders!
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  17. This Dot Media
    best of luck to all.
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  18. miss tracy h.
    Oooh! I’ll take a look now. Thanks @JessRudder ! ❤️
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  19. Sara Soueidan
    Aaron is a fantastic teacher, developer and person. If you’re interested in a mentorship, I highly recommend applying 👇🏻💕
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  20. i identify as tired
    Thank you for doing this! :)
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  21. Daksh
    Hi, this is a great initiative. Can I apply ?
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  22. Daniela de Oliveira
    I wish I could have you as a mentor. It’s not a competition, but it’s always one, and very hard to win. Either way, I’ve been looking for a mentor for a long time. Someone who can help me get on track with my career.
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  23. Aaron Gustafson
    If you are part of a community that’s underrepresented in our industry, yes!
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  24. Manuel Matuzović
    I can't put into words how grateful I am that I was lucky enough to have Aaron as a mentor. He's one of the nicest and smartest people I've ever met. I couldn't have achieved what I have if it wasn't for him and his mentorship! Take this unique chance!
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  25. Aaron Gustafson
    It truly is my honor.
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  26. MAGIC SKELETON
    this is a great initiative 💯
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  27. Mary Anne, MBA
    Love the web and looking for a mentor... This opportunity might be for you.
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  28. wes
    thank u so for indicate me, I’m applying right now
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  29. Veni Kunche
    If you are from an underrepresented group in tech and are looking for mentorship, apply! AND it's never too early to ask for mentorship.
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  30. Daniel Maritim
    Can I apply? I am FROM Kenya. I am a mental health nurse who wants to start a career as a software developer
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  31. R@ghu Pr@th@P
    Can I be your mentee so I can learn more about accessibility and Web security. Web assembly. Help me track on my career.
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  32. Aaron Gustafson
    Possibly! Please apply!
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  33. Aaron Gustafson
    Yes! I’m not looking for folks in any particular geolocation.
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  34. Pam Selle
    This is interesting in a few ways - one of which is that I hope for those that "apply" that they take a look at their goals they've written out and work towards them anyway

    Been considering doing the mentorship thing more, but not sure I want a public application process (contd)
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  35. Eric Tillberg
    This is inspiring!
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  36. Write/Speak/Code Seattle
    Looking for a mentor? Check out this opportunity.
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  37. Jesse Menn
    I would love to do this, but don't feel particularly underrepresented. Someone else go do it and become even more awesome than you already are.
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  38. Ste Grainer
    Aaron is brilliant, kind, and inspiring. If you want to grow as a designer or developer, I strongly recommend applying! Especially if you have a passion for the web, accessibility, and inclusive design.
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  39. Andy Griffin
    You have a bullet point on your site “developing… (but not with frameworks).” Do you not develop using frameworks at all? I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.
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  40. Aaron Gustafson
    Yeah, I don’t use any frontend framework. I may try Vue or React at some point, but it’s more than most (of my) projects need to be honest.
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  41. DOfAquarius
    THIS IS AWESOME!!! Hey, fellow Dragon users - here's a chance for a cool mentorship that could help position one of us to aid in reversing the trend of web inaccessibility for us voice recognition users!!!!
    APPLY!! PLEASE!!
    #VoiceRecognition #DragonUsers #Disability
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  42. DOfAquarius
    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!! I'm tearing up.
    This is AWESOME!! On so many levels & in so many ways!👏👏👏
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  43. Kim Crayton 🏢 💻🎙
    APPLY TODAY!

    ARE YOU AN INSPIRING DEVELOPER AND A MEMBER OF A MARGINALIZED GROUP IN TECH?

    I'VE TAKEN @AaronGustafson THROUGH THE PACES TO INSURE THAT THIS WOULD BE A GREAT MENTORING EXPERIENCE FOR YOU AND HE HAS ANSWERED EACH OF MY QUESTIONS TO MY SATISFACTION

    #causeascene
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  44. Kim Crayton 🏢 💻🎙
    APPLY TODAY!

    ARE YOU AN INSPIRING DEVELOPER AND A MEMBER OF A MARGINALIZED GROUP IN TECH?

    I'VE TAKEN @AaronGustafson THROUGH THE PACES TO INSURE THAT THIS WOULD BE A GREAT MENTORING EXPERIENCE FOR YOU AND HE HAS ANSWERED EACH OF MY QUESTIONS TO MY SATISFACTION

    #causeascene
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