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Patrick’s been with us since 2014, and is also Designlab’s lead designer. We talked about his day-to-day work, his proudest accomplishments from the past five years, and what inspires inspires him as a mentor.

What does an ordinary day look like for you at work?

At Designlab, we work on a lot of new features, as well as continuing to iterate on existing ones. We use a lot of data gathered from mentors and students to drive our design decisions, which makes the work really meaningful. It also provides design constraints and creates a lot of very interesting opportunities; we try to practice what we preach as much as possible!

We also have a vast library of modules that we created to speed up the design process and enable more people on the team to design. I am in love with both design and code, and day-to-day work provides opportunities to explore both of them. I’m based in Germany, but since the company is 100% remote, I travel from time to time to get inspired, meet people, attend events and work from different places.

Since I mentor students as well, some days I have calls with students scheduled. These calls are great for helping students in the course, and also provide an awesome opportunity for me to learn about their experience with the product, which motivates me to keep iterating and aiming for great design.

Patrick at work on our design system

What project are you most proud of that's in (or has previously been in) your portfolio?

I am most proud of the Group Crits feature within UX Academy that we launched in 2016. There’s little visual UI, but it provides a great opportunity for students to connect during the course to learn from and support one another.

We did quite a lot of research and iterations, and faced a lot of challenges around what seems like such a simple thing. I’m so glad we did it—I think it makes a huge difference to the student experience.

What attracted you to becoming a mentor?

During my final year at university, I had an awesome teacher who helped me work through my challenging final project. He asked me lots of questions (which I came to understand later as Socratic questioning) to help me flesh out my ideas, which was really helpful and a new experience for me.

In some ways, my project was a critique of the existing university system, but he welcomed my new ideas while other teachers seemed to take it a bit personally. He was very open to new ideas, and his questioning style really helped me overcome challenges and bring the project further. I wanted to be an awesome teacher as well and help people overcome challenges in design.

What has been the biggest challenge for you as a mentor?

There have been a few instances when students didn't believe in themselves, and after trying a lot they gave up their dream of becoming a designer. The reasons are internal and external, but it's challenging for me to see them stop. I always tell people they can reach out to me, and I always hope that people return to design in the future.

What do you find most exciting or rewarding in mentoring?

Seeing students get jobs! Especially when people in short courses get a job after only learning for a few months. Combinations of talent, timing, and opportunity help students achieve their dreams, and that is awesome.

Patrick <3 Framer

What has surprised you most about the students you've worked with?

I am always surprised and delighted when students pinpoint pain they have when using a product and then come up with novel solutions as if it's as easy and routine as brushing their teeth :D

What has been your ultimate "student win" throughout your mentor experience?

A UI Design student got a job as junior UX/UI designer after just a few months of learning design!

Have there been any surprising gains through mentoring for you as a design professional?

I think looking at, talking about, and experiencing a lot of designs from students has been really beneficial in building up my design fluency.

No remote work setup is complete without coffee

What do you think makes a good mentor?

I think a good mentor is not only a fantastic designer, but someone with a good understanding of the curriculum. They should also be patient, a good listener, willing to provide challenges, share experiences, and pass on wisdom. A growth mindset is key, as is being ethical, motivating, and inspiring.

What do you think makes a good student?

I think a good student is punctual and prepared for mentor calls, and willing to ask questions and seek advice. Students should be eager to work, patient and believe in their own design abilities.

What are your tips for people who are just starting out in design?

Understand where ideas come from—I like the books The Adventures of Johnny Bunko and How To Make Sense Of Any Mess. Also, surround yourself with fellow designers, be patient with yourself, embrace challenges, and collaborate with others on real projects!

Want to shape the next generation of product designers? Apply to be a Designlab mentor today!

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Patrick Multani with Maria Jennings

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