Design Mentorship

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When entry-level designers transition into the workplace, new responsibilities and adjustments to organizational procedures may cause uncertainty, even prior to COVID-19. Studies have shown that positive mentorship relationships can help newer protégés advance in their professional and individual career goals. This study employed a mixed-methods survey to understand the mentorship opportunities available to emerging designers and the impact of remote work on these dynamics. Quantitative and qualitative data were analyzed from eighty-five respondents using Ragins and McFarlin’s RMMRI instrument. Participants reported an average of 1.84 formal mentors and 4.01 informal mentors, which were significantly positively associated with overall average mentor role scores. Participants indicated that they were most likely to receive individual categories of “acceptor” and “friend.” Yet, contextual factors (i.e., firm size and market sector) did not significantly influence mentor roles. Further, those from underrepresented groups scored “acceptor” significantly worse than their counterparts, yet they did not score mentor quality significantly differently. Qualitative insights indicated “coaching,” “acceptance,” and “counselor” were the primary mentor roles received by the participants. Other quantitative findings revealed that remote work had little impact on mentorship perceptions during COVID-19. Together, these findings help build understanding surrounding mentorship in design praxis.