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Mentor Spotlight: Muwuso Mkochi - User Interface Designer

Updated by Valentina Calandra on September 26, 2016

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One of the unique features of the CareerFoundry experience is our mentor community - we work with a wide variety of mentors in iOS development, web development, UX design and UI design, from all over the globe.

In order to increase the visibility of our wonderful mentors and give you the chance to get to know them even better, we have created Mentor Spotlights. In today's spotlight we relay the career journey of one of our UI design mentors, Muwuso Mkochi. From his personal story to his tool belt and his inspirational view on mentoring, Muwuso shares with us the ins and outs of UI design as well as the unique role mentoring plays in his life and the lives of his students.

When we asked Muwuso what it’s like to work in UI design he enthused about the variety the role offers:

“you never know how your day will turn out!" he told us. 

Sound like your cup of tea? Then keep reading to find out more.

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Learning and growing

Born and raised in the city of Blantyre, in Malawi, Muwuso Mkochi was given the rare opportunity of living in Germany while his grandfather had taken office as ambassador for Malawi. At the age of 18, Muwuso moved to South Africa, to “a world that took as much pride in a skills-based workforce as much as it did academia”. This integration of technical work with theory and design that was native to South African culture was the beginning of Muwuso's journey into UI design.

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“Working with my hands is something I did all my life” he recounts, “solving problems [through a] design platform” was exactly what he had been waiting for.

Experiencing such diverse environments gave Muwuso a unique take on the potential influence of UI design:

“I think introducing design and design thinking to developing nations is really crucial. It could change the way we’ve been indoctrinated to look at or address the dynamics of personal, environment, political and entrepreneurial issues.”

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The diversity of the discipline was also attractive to Muwuso, who values the multifaceted nature of UI design. He would never have enjoyed a career where he performed the same tasks every day and right now he never has two days which are the same. 

Although design is widely recognised as a profession now, while Muwuso was growing up this was not the case and unless you went into engineering, there was little opportunity to learn it. Indeed, Muwuso planned to pursue civil engineering at university, but instead he started off his professional journey as a freelancer. This lead to him working for a boutique studio that quickly joined a three-way merger, which went on to win an award for the best agency in South Africa.

Despite the company's success, Muwuso grew disillusioned with the corporate nature of his career. He told us he is:

“more fascinated with learning when it involves a community, one [you] can .. grow alongside."

It is because of this community that CareerFoundry and Muwuso work so well together: every single one of our students, mentors, alumni, and employees are part of huge worldwide network who help and support each other in their learning and career development. 

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Overcoming challenges and fears

When we asked Muwuso what the biggest challenge facing his students is, he replied quickly: isolation.

“I find [isolation] to be the most common challenge, but CareerFoundry helps in that you get to talk about the issues that influence your decisions outside of just being graded on right or wrong answers”.

It is again through the  CareerFoundry community that students are able to feel less isolated in their studying: not only can they can share their stories with each other they can also help each other with the more technical problems involved in their courses.

And it doesn't end there: many of our students find they are encouraged and supported on an emotional level from both other students and their mentors so they are not tempted to give up when the going gets tough.

Muwuso is always developing himself as a master of his craft. Why?

“I have a terrifying fear of complacency," he told us. This fear has left Muwuso with a stronge desire "to evolve, adapt and understand new forms of being”.

Just like our students here, Muwuso has experienced the difficulty of diving into a new field and worried about losing himself in this new industry. 

Because of his own initial fears he can relate when his students tell him they are feeling a little lost. But that's exactly what he's there for: to help them overcome their fears, and put them back on their paths to success. 

“It’s a very emotional thing to take on the challenge of improving yourself, because you’re letting yourself be vulnerable to the idea of failing and also the outcome of succeeding and then not knowing what to do with that success now that you have what you wanted”.

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A unique opportunity

Muwuso views mentoring as an opportunity to “grow and learn as [he] helps others do the same”. As for his opinion of CareerFoundry, he feels “lucky to have found a platform where that trade off (of growing and learning) can be authentic and sustainable”.

He told us: 

“I get to continuously learn or have my opinion re-evaluated daily. Mentoring works great in the sense that the discussion is a two way channel.”

His feeling that he, too, benefits from the experience is abundantly clear:

“where possible, I’m taking in as much as I’m dishing out”.

What we can learn from Muwuso is that mentoring with CareerFoundry is clearly as beneficial for our mentors as it is for the students they teach. 

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Advice for new learners

Muwuso provided us with three key advice points for our future and current students:

  • You don’t have to shout to be heard. Take time to grow
  • Do what you want now, while you still have all your hair, there won't be time later.
  • Work on projects that go beyond the artist's ego and acknowledge consumers' needs first. Take on work that can make you laugh and that encourages design as a way to solve complex as well as simple problems.

And one final piece of advice: 

“As we say here in Malawi: ‘Pangono, Pangono’ (little by little)”.

If you're interested in learning more about UI design, and being mentored by Muwoso or one of our other UI design mentors, check out the CareerFoundry UI Design Course now!

  UI Design Short Course

Topics: ui design

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