Set up your profile, have great conversations, and get repeat mentees.
ADPList is a platform that connects UX and tech professionals for high-quality, free mentorship.
The need is greater than ever. Our field is expanding rapidly each year, with both growing demand for our work and many new professionals aspiring to join us. Candidates have many expensive options to help ease the transition — such as bootcamps, professional certifications, or undergraduate and graduate specializations — but comparatively fewer low-risk and low-cost resources.
I’ve been mentoring junior UX researchers on ADPList for more than a year now. When it comes up with friends and colleagues, they are often intrigued and want to volunteer as well. And I always encourage them to do so.
But getting going can be daunting and confusing. Though now a growing Sequoia-backed startup, ADPList began as a spreadsheet near the start of the pandemic. The team should be commended for making great strides in a short time. Still, more work is needed before the process of becoming a mentor is intuitive.
So in this guide, I’ll share everything I’ve learned to help you start having great mentoring conversations on ADPList.
You don’t need to be an industry veteran with a long and storied career behind you. I’m certainly not!
You only need to be two or three steps ahead of those you’re helping. As long as you’re not starting from zero, you have valuable experiences to offer those who are earlier on in their careers.
That said, there is a vetting process. ADPList checks prospective mentors according to the following criteria and standards: you must have 5 or more years of relevant industry experience, including some experience mentoring or leading more junior professionals; you must display a passion for mentorship; and you must meet their standards for diversity and inclusion. They say they only approve about 3 of every 10 prospective mentors who apply.
Once you sign up for an account as a mentor, you’ll be added to their vetting queue. They say this will take three weeks or more.
It’s good karma!
Most of us have benefited in some way from the generosity of others at some point in our careers. And mentorship is a way to pay that goodwill forward to the next generation. From conversations with other mentors, I suspect this reason alone is enough to motivate most of us.
But there are other benefits. We all suffer from the Curse of Knowledge, in which we forget what it was like not to know something we’ve learned. Mentoring others gives us greater empathy for the juniors we interact with.
It also helps you clarify your thinking. Mentees ask good questions — often, questions that someone entrenched in the field would rarely think to ask. Their divergent perspectives will stretch and inspire you.
Getting into a habit of helping others become a better version of themselves is also great for managers and would-be managers. If you are considering going down the people-leadership path in your career, mentorship can be a low risk way to try an aspect of that role on and see how it suits you.
If you’re interested in mentoring more junior professionals, there’s nothing restricting you to ADPList. They even have a resource with other options!
On one end of the spectrum, you could simply set up your availability in Calendly. Then when people ask to speak with you, you can share the link — or just give public access to it on your website or social profiles.
An option between Calendly and ADPList is UX Coffee Hours. This is a community of volunteers, vetted by its organizers, who share a brief bio and Calendly link on a simple page.
At the other extreme are platforms like Superpeer and Kintell, which are designed to make charging for your services as easy as possible. These options are best suited for those who wish to monetize their expertise.
Your public profile page has dedicated sections where you can add your work experience, education, and other information. Be sure to complete these sections!
This step might feel unnecessary, since there’s an option in the Edit Profile section to add a link to your LinkedIn page or resume, where you already have this information listed. You can add these links, but assume they won’t actually get visited.
Avoid giving all your background details in story form in your “About” section. That limited space is valuable. Instead, use it to…
In the “About” section, briefly share who you are and what you do.
Avoid casual introductions like, “Hi, I’m Lawton.” Your name is already on the page, and every word is precious. In fact, only the first two lines or so will be visible by default when a prospective mentee lands on your page.
Write this section in a way that encourages visitors to expand the text and read it all. For example, on mine, I include a bullet-pointed list of common topics that people ask me about. A mentee must click through to see those.
If you haven’t spoken with a mentee yet, you can share those areas in which you feel most confident helping others. ADPList provides “Topic packs” that may suit your needs, though I‘ve found them too generic for my field.
After a handful of sessions, you may find that you get the same questions over and over. Mentorship may start to feel monotonous, and you’ll wonder if there are better uses of your time.
I use repeated questions as inspiration to write answers for a larger audience, so I point mentees to my Medium profile. My personal landing page — the natural choice in most situations — wouldn’t be nearly as relevant.
But content creation isn’t for everyone, and truthfully, there’s already a ton out there. Instead, you could curate a resource list or FAQ like others have done. Make sure to draw mentees’ attention to it in your “About” text.
Just like the popular service Calendly, ADPList can sync with your calendar to make sure sessions only get scheduled when you’re available.
The calendar you choose will depend on when you plan to hold sessions. If your job’s schedule is flexible, for example, you may prefer to have sessions during traditional work hours. Syncing with your work calendar will ensure that mentees’ sessions won’t get booked over or during a more important meeting.
Unless you have a compelling reason to screen each mentee request, turning on auto-accept will cut down the automated email that ADPList sends you, and the number of steps you need to take. It will also ensure that no mentee request accidentally expires if you forget to respond.
At first, I more or less gave mentees free reign to book any available time slot in my calendar.
You may feel comfortable with that degree of availability. For me, it made my schedule unpredictable, throwing off errands and other plans.
I started to restrict mentorship sessions to just one or two days of the week — and now, all of my slots come from one hour each Monday afternoon. That may sound strict, but I’m fully booked most weeks. And crucially, it gave me back the control I needed over this volunteered time.
Don’t feel compelled to make yourself available at all hours. Set up a volunteer schedule that makes sense for your life.
Many people think of mentorship as a long-term relationship.
And so, many mentors become discouraged when, after a few months on the platform, they haven’t had many sessions with repeat mentees.
First, let’s acknowledge that short-term mentorship can be valuable if you’re seeking a variety of perspectives on an imminent goal. Or mentees might be legitimately shopping around and trying out different mentors for their experience, style, and chemistry, as a prelude to a longer relationship.
That said, ADPList allows you to dedicate time for repeat mentees. Under Calendar > Availability > Booking Limits, you can set a maximum number of sessions with new mentees and create slots for existing mentees.
In each session, I also encourage mentees to reach out and book again, and let them know about these dedicated times.
ADPList will feature your profile on the front page to a random subset of visitors to their site. They also have a matching feature, which pairs mentees with mentors based on their responses to a questionnaire about goals.
There are comparably fewer mentors with my specialization (UX research) on the platform than there are design mentors. If your discipline isn’t well-represented on the site, you’ll likely attract more mentees. Even if you are a designer, mentees will value your seniority and work experience. It seems that mentors who work for well-known or prestigious organizations get more requests as well.
Every mentor has something unique to offer. Share what makes you stand out with mentees on the site, and you’ll get requests.
For many, it can feel awkward to promote something you’re doing. This is especially true when it’s volunteer work — no one wants to come across as “holier than thou.”
But the easiest way to get people to sign up for sessions is to make it known that you’re available!
As part of your onboarding, ADPList will give you “swag” — a visually compelling banner with your profile picture — so that you can make an announcement on social media in style. But once is not enough! People aren’t always on social platforms, and they may not see it.
Instead, bring up the fact that you mentor regularly in your social updates. You might talk about a question someone posed. Or, with the mentee’s permission, you may celebrate a career milestone with them.
Also, feature your mentorship page prominently in your profile. My ADPList profile is linked to my personal website, my Medium About page, and my LinkedIn profile.
Take the first 10–20% of your time to break the ice and introduce yourselves to each other.
Greet the mentee and learn how their name is pronounced. Introduce yourself and share your excitement to help. Ask how their day is going. Find some common ground, whether that’s shared experiences of their hometown or alma mater, common acquaintances you know, or — if nothing else — the weather.
Rapport-building is far from a wasted time — it’s crucial! This will set everyone at ease in what can be an awkward or intimidating encounter.
Transition into the true “mentorship” part of the session with this question.
You will likely have some context already from the intake form that ADPList has mentees fill out as part of the booking request. However, in many cases, enough time will have passed that the situation has changed.
Ask lots of questions to understand the mentee’s situation and all the context around it. Repeat what you’ve heard to confirm you’ve understood. Ask questions to help the mentee discover the tools to solve it (e.g., “How’s your relationship with your manager?” or “What feedback have you gotten?”) Share your experience, knowledge, and resources to give the mentee a fresh perspective or understanding of the problem.
This isn’t intended to be exhaustive — just a few ideas I’ve picked up along the way. If you want to go deeper, there are many more strategies for effective mentorship that we can learn from the discipline of coaching.
This is good advice for most meetings — and it applies equally well to mentorship.
In the last 10–20% of your meeting, summarize your discussion and list any “homework” or follow-up items. Many of these will be actions the mentee should take, but some may fall on you, such as sharing any links or resources discussed.
Then I always encourage mentees to follow up with me, if even just a quick note to say how things are going. Some mentees will take advantage of ADPList’s built-in messaging, and others will prefer to connect on LinkedIn and continue the conversation there.
Lastly, I encourage mentees to book another session if they want or need one. And since there’s often a three- to-four-week wait between when mentees book their session and when their first session actually happens, I let them know about the dedicated time for repeat mentees.
Some mentors also ask for feedback or reviews. Personally, I don’t. Although I do love feedback (and public praise!), I hesitate to pressure or guilt anyone into making a public statement. And ADPList will automatically send you messages encouraging reviews without you having to say a word.
As our field and demand for our work grows, it becomes more and more important to nurture the next generation of UX professionals, so:
After more than a year on the platform, this approach has helped me to be a better mentor and to have more productive conversations.
I believe it will work for you, too. Let me know how it goes!