Breaking the Ice (Blog 1)

It just so turns out that my first blog doubles up as a helpful lesson for anyone who will ever find themselves in the same situation. To set the scene however, I will start from the beginning.

My name is Lola and due it being such a great opportunity, I have been looking forward to applying for the ALMP scheme for a long time. You can therefore imagine how thrilled I was to find out that I had been offered Baroness Patience Wheatcroft as a mentor. Given her phenomenal credentials, it made sense that I was more than a little bit excited to start the mentoring process.

The day finally came after we arranged to have our first talk via the phone. Up to that point, I had been very eager to speak to Patience Wheatcroft for the first time but I hadn’t stopped to give it any thought. It was not until I had found a very quiet place to sit down in, a couple of minutes before the phone call was scheduled to take place, that I stopped to think about what our conversation would be like. Then I got nervous. Very nervous.

I think it was probably to do with me being acutely reminded of the fact that I was about to speak to an experienced and distinguished professional. It was this sudden realisation however, that led me to encountering my first lesson in the mentoring process.

After what may have been a shaky start from my end, the conversation flowed easily. Patience was very easy and helpful to talk to and she soon started pointing out important things that I needed to begin to consider. For example, did I want to embark on a masters straight after university and if not, what were my other options? Also, if I was considering applying for graduate schemes, I should start them sooner rather than later because many of the deadlines were earlier than people expected. I finished the phone call feeling clear about where I needed to start in terms of my career pursuit and also excited about how the mentoring process was going to pan out.

The moral of this blog post? It’s only natural to feel a bit worried about your first conversation with a mentor or anyone of a distinguished position. However, like my experience indicates, if they have agreed to get in touch with you then it means they are here to help you rather than judge your conversation skills. The first meeting/ call is bound to be a little bit nerve-wracking of course, but just take a deep breath, be yourself and you will be fine. It definitely gets easier over time. I have spoken to Patience on a different occasions after this and each conversation has successfully taken place without me having a slight panic attack before hand!


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