Let me mentor you

Reading Time: 5 minutes

If you’re a Filipino student/early career individual interested in design and/or creative technology looking for a very fresh-out-of-college mentor to talk through career woes, projects, or anything design/creative in general – read on, I might be a fit!

Who you are

A student or early career technologist based in the Philippines looking to explore product design or creative technology (which generally means software engineering with an artistic bend). You don’t have to have a portfolio, any specific major, internships or formal work experience under your belt (I’m happy to help you if you’re looking for work—but a demonstrated interest in product design/creative technology is preferred.
e.g. You’re already spending time investing in your exploration of this path, even if there aren’t any artifacts to show for it – you have a grasp of why you’re interested in this, and you think mentorship is going to help accelerate your desired outcome. I’m going to be a bit annoyed if you’re asking me if X career is worth it, because that’s a question only you can answer for yourself and the millions of variables only visible to you, and because it would be more generative if you have the conviction to risk / spend time on a career path that you 1.) are truly, intrinsically ‘passionate’ about, or 2.) believe in for external reasons (because is a lucrative career and is genuinely good for moving social classes). I don’t care which one.

I prefer students who are in college, but I might take on high school seniors. (I will not help with college applications.) If you’re early career (say, 1-2 years out of college max), note that I’m not even one year into full-time work myself, but if you think I’d be helpful then this might still work out. (If you count internships, I’m ~2.5-3 or so years in.)

I’d also prefer students who don’t already have strong connections/networks (e.g. you don’t have a lot of peers around you pursuing the same path, or product design resources/communities in your school). I’m also particularly interested in students who are looking to develop a product design practice that draws from design-adjacent interests/practices (beyond like, an interest in art to make illustrations to use in designs – I mean unconventional/weird intersections), whatever that means to you.

Who I am

I’m a Product Designer on Figma‘s Prototyping team, presently living and working in San Francisco. I care about poetic applications and expressions of technology through tools and net art, in pursuit of my dream to make the act of creation truly ubiquitous and to gather all the people I love in one place – and how I think the internet could be one of those places. As a designer, I’m strongest at interaction design, strategy/product, and probably have lackluster visual design skills compared to many of your peers.

I was born and raised in Manila and went to school at De La Salle Zobel before somehow getting into Yale for college. I graduated last May 2022 with a degree in Computing and the Arts (basically Computer Science & Art each taken distinctly), so less than a year ago. I worked a lot through college (jobs, internships, orgs, & personal work – across two continents), stressing a lot over identity and career.

Previously, I interned at Spotify, Kumu (working part-time for over a year), Rappler, and other small startups – my first was an internship at Edukasyon.ph while in junior year of high school. Community building is central to my practice: I also founded/run Developh way back in 2016 and founded/ran Design at Yale (once a chapter of User Experience Society). I made dozens of ‘side projects’ while in college and high school, including a large Genshin Impact community, cassette archives, and lots of net art. I like to teach (workshops and speaking at a lot of design conferences), and write a lot (this blog, and some select pieces). I’m physically distant from the Philippines (presently, for many reasons outside of my control) but try to be closely involved in its technology industry with Developh and other communities.

For a sense on my product design philosophy, it might be interesting to skim over a talk I previously gave at UX+ (Design is Fantasy).
Here’s my CV and my design portfolio. Other links: chias.website, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn.

Outside of work, I’m trying to sincerely be an artist (focusing on ‘ambient art’ through internet art and play with analog media; this is another ‘game’ I’m learning how to play and break into). I go to a lot of concerts, like long Lav Diaz movies, DJ, volunteer at radio stations, and field record.

How we’ll talk / What I get

We start by emailing, meet each other and discuss general goals from the mentorship and whether it’s a fit. We can determine a frequency to call (maybe 45 minutes every 3 weeks?) and also exchange numbers/Messenger details so we can DM any other time.

I’ll do my best to help with any general career/academic questions, provide career assistance like portfolio & case study help, practice interviews, do my best to provide intros to anyone that might be helpful, provide copious amounts of references/links/books/articles of relevance that truly changed me that might change you too, discuss side projects/influences, and the like.

In exchange, I’d love to learn about your thoughts on the Philippine design/creative technology industry, how your academics/extracurriculars play into your design education (if you’re a design student, I’m genuinely curious about your assignments/readings; or if you’re into orgs, weird cultural practices/events you do), any raw thoughts and frustrations you have about the process in general.

I don’t like charging for mentorship—I would never have a mentor if I had to pay for it. I’m mostly doing this because I’d like to more actively have an understanding of the student/early career design landscape. I also have to say that I haven’t really had a mentor (outside of my managers in jobs I had), which is part of why I’m interested in doing this.

I care about the tech pipeline (this is why I work on Developh, which I’ve also done hundreds of hours worth of portfolio reviews for), have many thoughts on tech worker movements, an active research project chronicling internet communities new and old, and am interested in improving upon the fast food-esque UX bootcamp education that pumps out formulaic agency workers to cultivate more deeply empathic, creative designers that use whatever little capital we have to radically reimagine existing systems. You don’t have to believe in or know what this means, and I’m happy to debate/discuss this more. There were many, many moments where going to an elite institution made me feel small, unsure, and unsupported (e.g. I was never taught how to best maximize my resources) and I couldn’t relate to many of my peers who were either 1.) back home in the Philippines and dealing with a completely different set of problems that I tried to always make my problems too, or 2.) were incredibly privileged and simply live drastically different lives with different priorities, resources, and tools than me. A lot of this is also just hoping to make one or two people’s lives a bit easier: the system is difficult, already works against us, and I want to focus on making your life easier / reimagine this entire process eventually.

Let’s do this?

If you think you’re a fit, just send me an email at chiamisola@gmail.com with a short introduction about yourself, any of your links (socials/resume/portfolio/LinkedIn/etc), and why you’re interested in 1.) mentorship (towards what?), and 2.) why specifically mentorship from me.

I’ll take on the first 1-2 people who message and seem to be a fit.
I’ll edit this post once those slots are out.

Leave a Reply