The House of Lords is a very grand building. In the middle of the evening rush hour, it feels every bit like the centre of the UK. Tourists surround it, admiring it from the outside, but they aren’t usually allowed in. Imagine my excitement then, when I was invited into the building for the ALMP Celebration Event. Of course, the grandiose architecture didn’t help my nerves. I was about to go to a two hour networking event with some of the most successful people in the UK. Like meeting my mentor for the first time, it was quite daunting.
However, like that first meeting, I found I had nothing to worry about. The mentors and other mentees alike were friendly, welcoming, and obviously passionate about the Scheme in general. We were hosted in somewhere called the River Room, which exactly how I imagined it to be – ornate, beautiful, and with a glorious view out over the Thames. The event started with some general networking, while some very diligent staff served everyone drinks and canapés. Some of the other mentees were nervous as well, but that was soon eliminated by the feeling of celebration in the air. The mentors were very interested in our career prospects and outlook on the future. Talking to them, you understood why they were on the Scheme in the first place – they were passionate about helping young people just starting out professionally, and really wanted to help us all realise our potential.
This passion shone through in a speech by Baroness Doreen Massey, the events host, Cilla Snowball, who started the Scheme in the first place, and Lucy Hackett, who is the new Alumni Relations Volunteer Manager. All three really believed in the Scheme and were excited about continuing and developing it next year. It was very edifying to see first-hand that the mentors has found the scheme so rewarding – it made me feel a lot better about taking up so many hours of my mentor’s time! After the speech, we all introduced ourselves to the group and the mentees stated what they were planning to do in the next year. All of us had something lined up, but what was even better than this was the fact that all of us seemed really excited about the future. Our mentors had obviously helped us decide on a path that suited our personalities.
Finally, we had another period of networking. Something I really enjoyed here was that I could also have ordinary conversations with the mentors – it didn’t have to be about professional subjects. For instance, I talked with one mentor about Birmingham, and with another about good European cities to visit. It cemented the realisation that the mentors are ordinary people too, who I could speak to like anyone else. Overall, the event was really fun, and reflected my experience of the Scheme in general. On one hand, it was an interesting and exciting experience that I will be telling people about for a long time. On the other, it was simply the opportunity to talk to a bunch of passionate people who were interested in what I had to say.