4th November 2015
After a few informal emails with Sarah Cox, I had luck on my side when I visited my sister in London and arranged a meeting with her at (very) short notice. She squeezed me in for a breakfast meeting at 8am the next day, at the Department for Work and Pensions headquarters.
When I first met Sarah I was extremely nervous, partly because of being in DWP for the first time and partly because I know how much she has achieved in her career and I wanted to impress her! Fortunately, Sarah was very friendly and welcoming and she instantly put me at ease. The most surprising part of the meeting was her honesty. When I asked about working life in the Civil Service, she was open and honest about the challenges she faces, which is the crucial advice I was looking for. I know that having a mentor will give me this insight which you can only learn from somebody who has experienced working first-hand in this field.
Equally, Sarah was keen to learn more about me and my career aspirations. Of course I have no clue on what I want to do, so this gave us a lot to discuss. My advice would be to have a clear plan of what topics you want to discuss in the meeting so you can get the most out of it! But personally I’m glad that our first meeting was more of an informal chat to get to know each other. We had a lot in common, especially our love for Birmingham! From learning more about me, Sarah recommended shadowing opportunities for the future, based on what she thought I might find interesting. This was very helpful because lots of the opportunities she suggested I hadn’t previously considered. It was invaluable to speak to an industry professional who has a greater awareness of the different career opportunities within the Civil Service, which I wouldn’t have known otherwise.
On the whole it was so lovely to meet Sarah, she had fantastic advice and was really passionate about her job. As well as this, she really cared about my own personal development, which is just what I was looking for in a mentor.
4th Year, International Relations with year abroad