TMP Closing Event: Blair Francey’s Perspective on Mentorship Speech
Mentoring is something extraordinary. It gives someone the opportunity to help another person create and cultivate themself to realize their own potential. The Tri-Mentoring Program tries to embody these values, to be a source of great mentoring to students. We are motivated as a Program when we see a strong mentoring connection made between a mentor and their mentor. Blair is one of our career mentors, and he was partnered with Jennifer at the start of the year. Since then, he has stayed in contact with his mentee and is even working with her on a feature for Nuit Blanche this Fall.
They have been a powerful example of a strong mentor–mentee relationship, and it was our pleasure to ask Blair to come speak at TMP’s closing event. Though he chose not to give his speech at the event—opting instead for a more informal, personal connection to the crowd—we wanted to share his powerful words with SA.
A Perspective On Mentorship:
by Blair Francey, Creative Director BFdesign Inc.
“I’m honoured that I could be here this evening to speak to the mentors and mentees about my experience in the Tri-Mentoring Program at Ryerson.
I saw the post about becoming a mentor at Ryerson come across my Facebook newsfeed back in early autumn. I thought about applying in passing as I wasn’t exactly sure what I would be able to contribute to a student. I’m a self-taught graphic designer having originally studied to be a playwright. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought it would be an interesting experience to chat with a student going through academia right now in the field I’ve been working in for 7 years.
I look for mentors all the time. My parents are probably the most influential people I’ve had in my life not only on a personal level, but professionally as well, having grown up in a house of entrepreneurs where the talk around the dinner table would more often than not be about branding and design. Whether it was building LEGO or starting my own business, they would always let me try, fail, and succeed at whatever venture I wanted to try next. I’ll never forget what my mother said to me when I was ready to give up on my education at the National Theatre School after a tumultuous start to my final year. I was nervous my parents would be disappointed in me if I didn’t complete my education. However, after talking to my mother about the issues I was facing and that I wasn’t sure I would be able to finish the program, she simply said, “As long as you learned something, your father and I don’t care if you have a piece of paper with your name on it.” Along the winding path that has been my professional career I’ve had a plethora of mentors—friends, family, colleagues—who have been the most encouraging, thoughtful, and positive influences.
The latest addition to my mentor list is Jennifer Huyn, a 3rd year Graphic Communications student at Ryerson. She also happens to be my mentee. My first learning experience from her was the day we met and she explained what a graphic communication student studies. While I’m at one end of the design process making things look pretty on screen, she’s studying to be the person at the other end of the process that understands and translates what I’m asking for (like “Could we print this on something really shiny?”) and makes it a reality. Her enthusiasm for typography, Pantone colours, colour matching systems, and print processes would make any designer weak in the knees. Her excitement about the projects she’s working on coupled with the fact that she is an RA in the university residences and is a first generation university student in her family makes her a force to be reckoned with and someone who will go far in anything she puts her mind to. So often one gets stuck in the daily grind that you forget to lift you head up for air and see what else is going on around you. We have had some excellent talks about what it’s like to be in the field and the stresses and pressure of being a student and a freelancer. We’ve gone to visit and tour one of the printers I’ve been working with for over a decade and only a few months ago actually met for the first time. It has been a pleasure watching Jennifer grow as an individual, as a student; become more confident in who she is and what she wants to accomplish.
I think if anything, what I’ve walked away with from this experience is the fact that mentoring encompasses much more than job shadowing or networking or job placement. Mentoring is a learning experience for both parties. It should be a two way dialogue at all times because the questions you might be asked may force you to examine and question the answers you think you know. To be a good mentor you have to be a good student at the same time.”