in Mentoring

Questions for prospective IAs

I participate in the IA Institute Mentoring Program. Whenever, I get contacted by a new prospective mentee, these are some things I like to find out at the outset:

  • Why are you interested in pursuing a career as an Information Architect? In other words, what attracted you to the field?
  • What type of organization would you like to work in? Information Architecture is a very diverse discipline and very much affected by where you work. For example, an IA working at an agency may be doing very different kinds of work compared to an IA working as an internal IA at an organization.
  • What types of products do you want to be designing? For example, would you like to be working on designing more brand-intensive products? Fashion and entertainment sites are usually good examples of this, where the focus is on the impact of the experience. On the other end of the spectrum are more functionality-intensive products, such as Gmail or Ebay, where its all about getting stuff done.
  • What is your background? For example, do you have any software development experience, or maybe you have a lot of writing experience, or are really skilled at graphic design. A great IA needs all of these skills and more.
  • Do you have a portfolio of work? For example, have you built a website, or created a deck of wireframes or specifications?