What is Cofolios Office Hours? 🤔
Previously hosted on Students Who Design, Cofolios is an online platform created by Hasque May to offer free resources for aspiring designers seeking inspiration from designers from top companies.
Cofolios Office Hours is an extension of the platform that houses some of the most well-versed designers in practice, a team composed of volunteers! Individuals can book a time to chat with mentors for advice and feedback, with the purpose of learning about design.

The "design" problem
For a majority of people, design can be too complex to understand. For people who are curious, or those desiring to enter the industry and do not know where to start, they might be lost in the process not knowing where to access resources, how to improve portfolios, and how to network with other designers.
Design education and resources are also costly. We want to provide aspiring designers free and accessible resources to help guide and strengthen the design community.

A mock-up of Cofolios website from Hasque May's portfolio case study.

Why volunteer as a design mentor?
When I was discovering the field of design, I had to self-initiate my education through various programs, tutorials, and resources with a high cost of time and money. I remember coming into the University of Washington as a freshman, not knowing what are the right resources to access and how I could get into the competitive Design major. I was in search for extracurriculars to build on my design knowledge, being as proactive as I could to get into the major. I ended up participating in over 5 student organizations and held leadership positions in media, publication, and advertising design. 
In hindsight, these experiences helped shape my persistence and initiative to scope projects from scratch and adapting to different design disciplines. They taught me some of the essential do's and don'ts that I live by today just by learning from overcoming my obstacles and failure. Over the years, I started to notice there were more individuals approaching me from high school asking about university program advice and underclassmen who want to learn more about design. It was odd to see that I was now in a position for others to seek advice from, and rewarding to know that I can leave them reassured with accountable advice.
The lessons we learn as students and designers are so valuable, which is why I want to give back to the design community and forward these advice to others! 😊

Things my mentees ask me in office hours
• Industry experience 🙏
Coming from a visual communication design background, they were interested to know how I paved my way into Interaction and User Experience Design, and how to think about user-centered considerations in both design disciplines.
• Multidisciplinary design 🙌
Having experience in branding, motion, interface/web, and exhibition design, they were interested to learn tools and tips for project visual refinement.
• Portfolio/resume reviews ✏️
Most are interested in getting feedback and critique on UX/UI systems thinking and visually refining the storytelling process of their portfolios through in-depth narratives, user flows, and prototyping.
• Accessibility design 👋
As a previous Inclusive Experience Design Intern at Airbnb, my mentees were interested to hear about my experience learning about inclusive design principles in digital accessibility to accommodate for a range of users, such as giving multiple affordances and adding layers of user interaction.
• How to network well 🤝
Network is key in the design industry. My mentees were interested to know how to respond better to behavioral questions in network/interview settings, as well as building rapport through conversations.
A few testimonials from mentoring 50+ aspiring designers! 🎉

After rounds of office hour sessions, I had an idea to make a survey to collect feedback from the mentees I had the privilege of chatting with. Similar to customer reviews, testimonials are so effective to hear the voice of the end-user to see how we can improve and what is working well within the product. As a designer, I'm always finding ways to seek feedback to how I can improve both personally and professionally for the next project/office hour.
Thank you so much to everyone for providing your kind comments and feedback!

A Google Forms survey I made to collect feedback from my mentees. 

"I am so fortunate to have received mentorship from Ariel. She provided me immense support at elevating my visual design skills, helping me prepare for my interview responses, and figuring out my priorities. She is very clear, concise, and to the point with her communication. I always walked away feeling I learned so much from her. Thank you Ariel 🙂"
— Kevin ZHANG, Architecture @ McGill
"Can't say enough about how helpful Ariel's session was! As someone trying to pivot my career and break into the field, I felt like I learned more in the session with Ariel than I have the past few months studying Medium articles and attending informational interviews with other designers. She also has a unique authenticity to her, which made the session even more enjoyable."
— Amy Xin, Marketing @ University of Texas at Austin
"After the brief intro, Ariel asked me what I wanted out of this conversation. So that made the scope more focused. I felt like I was talking to a friend. This is an uncommon yet a great feeling to have when talking to a stranger, as it eases things out. Ariel helped me tremendously with her job hunt-related advices. She stated relevant examples from her personal situations, and that helped to make those advices less abstract."
— Sneha Parekh, UX Design @ University of Toronto
"Having just graduated, I was very anxious about getting a job. However, Ariel reassured me that there should be no intense rush on a Product Design career. She told me to take my time and think about my goals and the steps needed to achieve them, whether it be in 6 months or a year. The one chat I had with Ariel (so far) has really given me clarity and reassurance on the process of jumping into an entirely new field for me."
— TIFFANY NGUYEN, Art history + Media @ UC Berkeley
"The values that Ariel displays on her portfolio directly translates to personality and the way she interacts with others in person. She was so approachable and genuine with her feedback. I felt that I could be honest about where I was at with my portfolio and my overall skills as a designer. Not only did I leave her office hours with specific ways to improve my portfolio, I also felt encouraged & inspired!"
— Jubilee cho, VCD @ UW 
"I saw Ariel's portfolio website before I signed up and I loved her process! Ariel gives the best advice to her mentees. If you have questions about portfolio, I highly recommend you to sign up for her office hours. I will definitely sign up again! " 
— Seung Hee Yun, NEW MEDIA DESIGN @ RIT
"Ariel has been a great mentor and resource for me as I pursue a career in design. She is excellent at communicating visual and interaction design feedback and identifying opportunities to refine my work. I look forward to continue working with her in the future!"
— Michael Owyang, IxD @ UW
"Ariel was really good at putting problems and projects into context, working with what we showed her and advising us on how to enhance that more. A lot of her critique was realistic, and empathetic to our own skill sets, which is something that I found unique and helpful." 
— sami everhart, VCD @ UW 
"Ariel is a fantastic designer who really has a unique perspective in her design thinking. Getting to listen to her process and how I can apply philosophies to my own designs was really insightful!"
— Shelley Tsui, VCD @ UW
"I only wish I had more time to talk to ARIEL. Ariel really helped me figure out a feasible path towards design. She directed me to her recommended resources and was really personable. Thank you Ariel!"
— cindy yang, business @ UW bothell
"Ariel is a great mentor who was great at being very transparent and honest! Her advice and suggestions are professional and easy to implement. I am really glad that I talked to her about my portfolio and my professional growth!"
— Esther Lin, HCDE @ UW
"Ariel's undeniable talent and love for design combined with her work experience makes her an amazing resource! She truly showed me what passion and hard-work can do."
— Riley Mehl, VCD @ UW
"Ariel help me walk through pain points on what to improve and she made sure if she was clear what she meant. She helped improve my design thinking in structural layout in my design portfolio."
— Alex Kauffman, New Media Design @ RIT
"You are an icon amongst UW Design 2022 and we all respect and love your work."
— ASHTEN ALEXANDER, VCD @ UW 

NEXT STEPS — 
• Maintaining and expanding network with aspiring designers.
Most mentees I've spoken with have returned for a next session and it's been so great to see the progress of their portfolio and process in milestones!
• Implementing testimonials on Cofolios.
I spoke with Hasque in a time slot I booked with him and offered the suggestion of including testimonials to better gauge which mentors to select on top of personal bios. This feature could help mentees find a mentor for them more efficiently by hearing the stories from their fellow peers.

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