Since there are lots of questions on UXExchange about career choices, I thought I'd pass along this article, Developing a usable career path, by UPA board member, Robert Skrobe. In it, he writes: "Mentoring, volunteering, and networking all are quality ways to build a […] career." He explains this in some detail.
closed as not a real question by JonW♦ Jun 10 '12 at 14:44
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The answer to my question is: all three! I recommend reading Robert Skrobe's article, Developing a usable career path.
Whenever people ask me about a move into UX I suggest a couple of books and always recommend that the person goes along to a UPA event or UX Book Club or an IA in the pub meeting. Just listening to UX professionals talking and taking part in these discussions is a great way to be bitten by the UX bug!
Those meetings are a great way of meeting fellow professionals and doing some quality networking. Discussing UX issues, problems and revelations with like minded people, making new friends and contacts in out field and, hopefully, learning new things.
I believe IxDA was setting up a mentorship program awhile back. http://www.ixda.org/mentor.php Although I registered for it, I didn't receive any feedback from anyone (I was seeking mentors).
I also know the IAI has a mentorship program: http://iainstitute.org/en/members/mentoring/welcome_to_iai_mentoring.php
Cennydd Bowles from Clearleft is a IAI mentor, I believe.