I was so delighted when I heard the news that I had got my first choice – Sam as my mentor. Having done the exact same degree as me, and successfully having founded her own business (an aspiration of mine), I knew she would have a wealth of knowledge and advice to give about the biotechnology sector. After my first meeting, I have to say I was not disappointed.
We arranged to meet on campus at the University. I immediately felt comfortable around Sam, her positive demeanour instantly put any nerves I felt at ease. First of all she asked me about myself, what my interests were, why I chose to do the mentoring scheme. She then told me how she got to the position she was in today, what she would do differently, and what she did well. We spoke about the differences between Managers and Leaders, and what skills it takes to run a business. I left excited for the rest of the mentor scheme, and feel there is a lot I can learn from Sam!
Since meeting, Sam has offered her advice on my career decisions and further education. As someone who has done the exact same degree, from the same University as me, so her insight is unique and something I really value.
I was asked to go to the client meeting room on the 6th floor of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch office in central London and wait for Lucy. Having spoken with Managing Directors during my work experience at Morgan Stanley I was very aware that they can often be blunt and come across in a cold manner. Managing Directors seem to have the ability to cover, what would take a 30-minute meeting for most people, in the space of 5 minutes. Minimal small talk and getting straight to the point means every conversation is exceptionally concise. This often can often come across as being rude or blunt however it’s often really just a mixture of trying to be efficient whilst being under the inherent pressure of working at a senior position within an investment bank. Knowing all of this, I was very nervous as I saw Lucy Baldwin approach me at the office in London.
I was taken aback by the genuine and approachable manner in which Lucy greeted me. She was eager to learn more about me, my experience on placement and university, and my career aspirations. We talked about her past experiences within the banking industry and how new regulation is going to impact the investment research division. Lucy was kind enough to me in touch with 3 other colleagues from BAML who have all been keen to give me an insight into their role within the firm. We have been in contact since meeting in September and have arranged to meet up again when I’m back home for the Christmas holidays.
I very much enjoyed working with Ian, his workplace and UK engineering experience was invaluable and definitely helped me secure my graduate job at Fluor. I first met Ian around November time in Gaydon where I was able to talk to Ian about his experiences from leaving university, completing an MBA and finally as an director at Aston Martin. This was extremely useful. We also spoke about which skills business are really looking for at the moment in UK and what is important for graduates, Ian said he really values communication skills. I was also given a tour of the factory which was very interesting
The next time I got into contact with Ian was a phone call around January time to discuss an application form for the Salters graduate prize as I had been nominated by my school. Once again the outlook of the UK engineering was discuss and another very useful chat.
And finally just before and after being offered my graduate job I spoke to Ian what he feels is important when accepting a graduate role, and this was really useful.
I would definitely recommend the scheme to anyone willing to learn from experts within their respective fields. From the scheme I gained an insight into graduate life, what employers seek in graduates and what is important for graduates to look for in employers as finding a good fit for both the individual and the business is needed.
I am currently travelling around south east Asia and Australia until December before starting work in January.
After my practice interview with Amanda in November I had a catch up with Valerie in December and February updating her with how my degree was going and progress on job applications. By this point I was waiting to hear back from 3 jobs after completing online assessments and video interviews. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful in those applications but I had one more to hear back from at The Hut Group for a merchandising supply chain role.
After 3 months of waiting I heard in April that I was to have an interview on the 18th. I contacted Valerie for advice and a practice interview if possible. Unfortunately Valerie was on holiday but gave me an email with some hints and general advice for interviews. Again Amanda, Valerie’s business partner, agreed to give me a mock telephone interview and gave me a list of things to prepare beforehand. This included making a PowerPoint presentation about the history of the company, its financial information, reasons for wanting the job and how I was suited to the job. This not only aided the mock interview process but it gave me a chance to figure out a plan in my head about the best method to tackle possible questions. The mock interview was invaluable as it gave me a confidence boost the day before the interview and allowed me to brush up on aspects that I needed to improve.
As a result of Valerie and especially Amanda’s help I was successful in securing the graduate job at The Hut Group and I start in August. Without their expertise and advice, the interview would have been more difficult as many of the things I had practised with Amanda came up in the real interview.
Since receiving the good news I have had a phone call with Valerie again to catch up and give me some words of wisdom not only about the world of work but about tackling exams in my final year at Birmingham. I am scheduled to have a final face to face meeting with Valerie and Amanda in June.
My ALMP experience has been great and I cannot thank Valerie and Amanda for their support and advice during what has been a stressful year juggling the work load of final year as well as applying for jobs. Valerie has always been an email away and is always quick to respond and if she has been unavailable then she has put me in contact with her colleagues such as Amanda to help me out. The scheme has been extremely beneficial not only to help me to secure a graduate job but also it has given me a confidence boost to succeed in my future career.
Having the help and guidance of Dr. Hillson has been incredibly useful over the past few months.
As planned, I haven’t had direct contact with Cilla since I last met her as I have been completely busy with my dissertation, revision and all the stress of final year. I have however, been working on some of the suggestions that she gave me at our last meeting. Following her advice on trying to gain local work experience within Advertising and Marketing, I have been continuously searching the Careers’ Network website for any opportunities. After having applied for many internship positions, I have finally been successful in securing a month long paid Marketing Internship which I’m convinced was down to my work experience at AMV-BBDO. At the interview stage they were very keen to hear about my experience and what I had gained from the week. While I was on work experience, various people at the agency had given me career focused advice such as keeping up-to-date with the most recent ads and reading about new and successful global marketing campaigns. I took this on board and it gave me loads to talk about at my interview, particularly when they asked me about where I thought the future of Marketing was heading!
I wrote in my first blog post how I felt Barry Cockcroft was an enthusiastic mentor on the programme who was keen to assist. As the scheme has unfolded, this first impression has certainly proven correct. Living just outside the Birmingham area hasn’t stopped Barry from making a dedicated train journey to meet with me for coffee. Upon meeting, we’ve spoken without silence each time. An insightful balance of answering my specific questions but also sharing miscellaneous advice and anecdotes.
So, late in January, on a cold wet day, I set off on a day trip to London. I always enjoy being in London and today I was meeting Andrew to observe two very different meetings. The first meeting was the Board meeting at the Royal Brompton Hospital. Andrew is a Non-Executive Director of the board, and I was able to observe the discussions at the meeting; ranging from an IT Update to Clinical Quality reports to finances. Andrew kindly organised it so would be sat just behind him allowing him to clarify terminology for me. After the meeting I spoke to some of the other non-executive directors, who were all very friendly, and it was great to meet other leaders from other professions.
Phyllida contacted me soon after the programme had begun to arrange our first meeting before she had to fly to New York to take her all-female cast production of Henry IV to Broadway. We met at the end of November at a rehearsal studio in Southwark, where she was rehearsing finishing touches with her cast. It was very exciting to have a taste of her world and to see famous cast members from her show. She’d kindly bought me lunch and we chatted in the studio for an hour, occasionally joined by several of her friendly cast. I’d researched Phyllida’s career thoroughly and I’d prepared a long list of potential questions, depending on where the conversation led me.
The Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme almost forces you to look towards the future whether that be in terms of higher education or working. At the same time, it allows you to see how far you have come as an individual from the start of third year on the way to the end.