NYC Design Mentor Night Recap

Noni Culotta ·

On Wednesday night, designers and design lovers from all over NYC gathered at Carbon Five SoHo to receive career guidance, feedback, and insights from five senior designers. The evening kicked off with a Q&A with our panelists:

Attendees then had the chance to break out their laptops and receive feedback on their own projects and goals from our panelists. The evening evolved into a warm and collaborative open workshop – complete with plenty of wine and cheese :) .

Missed the event but want to know more? Here are some of our favorite highlights from the Q&A:

The most essential design software for UI / UX designers in 2019?

Figma quickly emerged as a panel favorite, along with a Sketch + Abstract combo, but the unanimous opinion was that some of the best design work is done using two simple elements: a whiteboard and a team.

Should I work in consulting or on an “in-house” team?

The bottom line from our panel: Don’t feel like you have to do one or the other. Many people (and most of our panelists) have done both. The most important thing to focus on is making sure you’re on a team that is supportive and matches your values as a person.  

How important is a design-related degree for a fruitful design career?

The degree is not nearly as important as the content of the work in your portfolio. Demonstrating your design thinking and your ability to apply your design knowledge to real world problems is ultimately more valuable to prospective employers, clients, and coworkers.

How do I navigate switching from a totally separate field to design? I.e. Architecture to UX Design?

Find a way to make your past experience relevant for the field you are moving into. Bridge the gap by drawing from what you’re familiar with as principles for your design work. Your first portfolio piece could be turning a floorplan into a site map!

Eek! My visual design skills need work.  Is that a red flag to future employers?

Make sure to be honest about your skill set in interviews. Demonstrating coachability and eagerness to learn is a valuable asset on any team, and design skills can be sharpened with mentorship, teamwork and time. Our panel also emphasized the value of design pairing as a learning tool.

What’s the difference between UI/UX designer and product designer?

The consensus of our panel was that there is basically no difference as far as skillset, but different roles at different companies will have varying responsibilities. Titles can also affect your compensation. You should be prepared to advocate for yourself and your skills no matter the job title.

Thanks everyone who made it out to Design Mentor night. We are excited to plan the next one. Keep an eye out on our events page for more details. Hope to see you there!

Your hosts,
Noni & Treyce

Graphic by one of our panelists, Erin Murphy.

Interested in attending the next Carbon Five Mentor Night? Join the Carbon Five Meetup group to receive alerts on all upcoming events hosted in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chattanooga, New York, and Seattle.