Going in to meet Cilla, I had a set of expectations. I expected Cilla to offer me really helpful advice about my CV, job prospects, and career plans (which she did do). I expected to get lost in London (it was a good life experience). However, I didn’t appreciate the true range of topics that we would discuss, nor how helpful and insightful Cilla would be concerning all of them. We covered so many things, from how to increase my confidence (and why struggling with confidence can be a big positive in the long run) to what exactly makes a good leader. I went in to the meeting quite nervous and worried about how I would come across; I left excited about the future, raring to start planning how I could discover what I want to do with my life. If we fast-forward to a few months later, that feeling is still there, and I think that’s one of the amazing things about my ALMP experience: it’s transformed the future from a blank wall into something full of potential.
If I could say one thing to any final years going on the scheme, it’s that what you can get from your mentor isn’t limited to job advice, contacts, or academic help. It’s an opportunity to face everything that you feel is really standing in your way head on. For instance, Cilla and I talked about the future, my CV, and different career sectors, but we also discussed how I could get over confidence issues, what the true nature of business is, and how to balance your work with everything else in your life (spoiler: there’s sadly no set way). Cilla also had a way of challenging my ideas and offering me insights about myself that I hadn’t realised. I went into the Scheme hoping to build a five-year plan of the future, but Cilla quickly challenged that idea and make me realise how unrealistic building a structured plan for such a long time would be. She also helped me realise that looking my future in such a big scale was what made it so scary. I needed to break it down into a much more manageable size.
Overall it was a really useful meeting and stands out as one of my most memorable experiences at university. Cilla hit the perfect balance between being welcoming and friendly and being ready to speak honestly and openly. Talking to someone so successful is also helpful in that it makes you realise that people are still people even when they’re at the top. It strips away your preconceptions, and I found it very encouraging to realise that to be successful does not mean you have to become the stern, workaholic stereotype of a CEO that I had in my head beforehand. I’m really looking forward to our next meeting, and until then have been given plenty to think about!