Article in Culture, Product Design UX UI, Design categories.

Inspiring the Next Generation: My Journey from Design Student to Mentor

Returning to the college where it all began over two decades ago was a surreal yet deeply gratifying experience. As I stood before a full…

Returning to the college where it all began over two decades ago was a surreal yet deeply gratifying experience. As I stood before a full theater, addressing eager students embarking on their own creative journeys, I couldn’t help but reflect on the path that led me from those very halls to where I am today – the Director of Design at Fueled, a prominent digital transformation agency based in New York City.

The invitation to speak at Newcastle College, my alma mater, came from my old lecturer, now the Head of Careers Education and Student Progress. It was an honor to kick off the college’s Careers Week, a time for students to explore the myriad possibilities awaiting them post-graduation.

My talk wasn’t just about recounting my professional milestones; it was about sharing the lessons learned and the invaluable experiences that shaped my career trajectory. From humble beginnings to leading a dynamic team of designers, my journey has been one of resilience, passion, and unwavering determination.

It all started with a serendipitous encounter with graphic design during my high school years, thanks to an inspiring art teacher. Fuelled by curiosity and a burgeoning interest in design, I pursued a path that led me to study Art, Mathematics, and Graphic Design at A-levels. But like many young adults, I was faced with the temptation of immediate gratification – opting to forego higher education for a job at a local factory.

However, fate had other plans. A sudden redundancy became the catalyst for me to reignite my passion for design and pursue formal education once more. Enrolling in a National Diploma in Graphic Design, followed by the Higher National Diploma course, I immersed myself in the craft, seizing every opportunity to hone my skills and showcase my creativity.

From unforgettable work experiences at renowned agencies to designing iconic logos and branding campaigns, each step of my journey taught me invaluable lessons in creativity, adaptability, and perseverance. Whether it was pitching packaging designs at Ann Summers HQ or seeing my logo worn proudly by Lee Westwood at the Masters, every triumph and setback fueled my determination to excel in the world of design.

My transition to Fueled marked a pivotal moment in my career. Joining a pioneering design department led by a former colleague, I embraced the challenge of working with cutting-edge technologies and pushing the boundaries of digital design. Today, as the Director of Design, my focus extends beyond delivering exceptional work for clients – it’s about nurturing and empowering the next generation of designers, paying forward the mentorship and guidance I received throughout my journey.

Alex Lockey standing in front of a projector speaking to a crowd

As I stood before the eager students, sharing my journey and insights, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of fulfillment knowing that my experiences could potentially guide and inspire the next generation of designers. Throughout my career, I’ve discovered a profound joy in helping others succeed – whether it’s offering guidance to junior team members or mentoring aspiring designers through platforms like ADPList.

There’s something incredibly gratifying about witnessing the growth and success of those I’ve had the privilege to mentor. Seeing their confidence flourish and their skills sharpen, knowing that I played a small part in their journey, brings me immense satisfaction. It’s this love for giving back and seeing others thrive that has driven me to extend my reach beyond the confines of my workplace.

By speaking at colleges and universities, I can now share my wisdom and experiences with aspiring designers worldwide. It’s a humbling experience to know that my journey, with all its ups and downs, can serve as a source of inspiration for others embarking on their own creative paths. Whether it’s offering advice on navigating the industry or sharing practical tips for success, I’m committed to using my platform to empower the next generation of creatives.

Mentoring through platforms like ADPList allows me to connect with individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures, transcending geographical boundaries to make a meaningful impact on a global scale. It’s a testament to the power of technology and human connection, proving that mentorship knows no bounds.

As I continue on my journey, I’m fueled by the belief that true success is not measured solely by individual achievements but by the collective impact we have on others. By paying it forward and investing in the success of those around us, we create a ripple effect of inspiration and empowerment that transcends generations.

So, as I conclude my talk and bid farewell to the students, I do so with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment. My journey is far from over, and I’m excited to see where it takes me next – but one thing is certain: I’ll continue to pay it forward, sharing my wisdom and experiences to inspire and uplift others, one mentorship at a time.

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