Having been selected for the ALMP I was looking forward to meeting my mentor, Luciana Berger MP. By October her assistant had contacted me and we had organised a meeting. I travelled down to London to meet her at Portcullis House, the impressive and daunting building opposite the Houses of Parliament, where many MPs have their Westminster offices.
Having gone through the airport-style security checks, I waited for Luciana in the lobby. Her assistant met me and guided me through to where I would be meeting Luciana. Luciana then came down and we began talking. She asked if I had had any thoughts before the meeting. I had written down a number of things I thought we could go through, from my CV, to an example of a typical cover letter I had written, to my general interview technique. Luciana then proceeded to go through my CV in an honest and frank fashion, and by the end of it the whole CV was covered in crosses, comments and question marks. By that stage even I was wondering how I had ever handed in such a document! However I could see many of the mistakes I had made and knew that the next CV I would hand in would be far better. Next we went through my cover letter, and that was a similar affair, with huge sections crossed out. But again this was exactly what I needed, when else would I ever have the opportunity to be so honestly critiqued by someone so successful in their field? I then suggested she could perhaps give me some interview advice as this was something I felt I also needed to work on. She provided me with lots of great advice ranging from techniques in answering competency questions, to advice on body language and posture… which instantly made me sit up straight! Luciana did much of the talking in our meeting, detailing her extensive experience in scrutinising potential job applicants. She emphasised above all that I would need to work very hard, both to stand out and to get the necessary experience that I would need to make it in the industry.
Overall the experience was a fantastic one. Whilst I left feeling fairly daunted by the amount I still had to learn and work on, I knew that the guidance I had been given would be invaluable. My advice for any future ALMP candidates would be to make sure you go in to your meeting with a very specific action plan. Introduce yourself and then go through everything you want to work on. You do not have long with your mentor and so need to make use of the precious time that you do have. There is no other time in your life when you will be given such honest and expert feedback.