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Benefits of Mentoring (Part 2)

By Joe O'Brien, on 25 March 2021

Read time: 4 minutes

Written by Joe O’Brien, Marketing Communications Assistant at UCL Careers

We recently reached out to a number of UCL alumni Graduate Guides and asked them questions sent in to us by our followers on Instagram. Part one of these answers was released last week and you can read it here. We hope that you’ll find the advice below useful as you navigate finding your future! Remember, these mentors are ready and available on UCL Bentham Connect should you wish to get in touch for advice!

Did you benefit personally from the guidance of an alumni mentor? If not, how could this have helped you when planning your career steps?

Joy Martindale: I didn’t! I definitely would have benefitted from the guidance of a mentor. I felt adrift at times during my MFA – I think this may be a common experience for students – when you feel like that it can be really helpful to get feedback from more than one source of support to help you get back on track.

Abhisehk Gulati: Personally, I did not get any guidance from an alumni mentor, but would have really appreciated the same. Having a mentor is a blessing, it would have helped me navigate my path and learn from their experiences. 

How important are face-to-face and virtual networking opportunities, including engaging with social media platforms, as part of a focused careers strategy?

Eeva Ellenberg: I have found LinkedIn to be an invaluable tool during my career, for finding new employment opportunities, building my network, and researching potential employers. It’s great for building your own brand, too.

Can you share any mistakes you’ve made along the way, or any tips of things to avoid?

Anne Byrne: Change can be daunting and it is easy to keep plodding along with what you know well. I’ve found that the best opportunities come through being willing to take on something new or follow a different direction.

What is the best way to approach a mentor?

Ajaz Hussain: Do your homework. Review several mentor profiles. Identify which potential mentor/s might support you with your query. Craft a message to briefly introduce yourself, state why you are reaching out and what you hope to gain from the mentor relationship. Your mentor is busy. Stay flexible and remember that you and your mentor might be from different cultures, located in different countries and time zones.

Is it hard to find a job if you only get a pass in your Masters?

Joy Martindale: A pass is still a pass! Be proud of yourself for completing your Masters and look forward not back. I think ambition and dedication to achieving your dreams and goals matter far more that what mark you achieved in your Masters.

Other people have loads on their CV and I’m struggling. What can I do to find opportunities?

Joy Martindale: There may be lots of things you are doing already that could be included on your CV. What is it that makes you tick? Where do you think your strengths and talents lie? What makes you leap out of bed in the morning? What are you curious to know more about or learn to do?  When an employer looks at a CV they want to see a rounded individual and a CV should be exciting to read for both you and your potential employer.

Dimitri Visnadi: Add your side projects or uni projects. Write about the objective of the project and your impact. You will have some relevant content in no time. For many a job like a “dog walker” may not seem worth putting on a CV but there are lots of transferrable skills to be learnt such as: responsibility, customer service, scheduling client visit, acquiring new clients. Think business and showcase your skills.

UCL is really not going well for me. Do you have any advice to improve my experience during the pandemic?

Joy Martindale: I would recommend reaching out and asking for support from UCL to talk through how you are feeling right now. There is lots of support available ranging from your tutors to Student Support and Wellbeing and alumni mentoring support.

Natasha Winnard: Try to reach out and talk to someone about what it is that is not going well. You are not alone in trying to figure out what you may need to change for things to improve.

 Did you know what kind of job you wanted before you graduated?

Conor Courtney: I think I’ve always had a clear idea of the field that I want to work in, but new experiences and meeting people from other industries always shows me that different paths and opportunities are always available, which can be really uplifting when one career path seems to not be progressing as planned.

How might connecting with a mentor boost my confidence when searching and applying for jobs?

Dimitri Visnadi: Mentors are simply people who have lived through similar situations that mentees are currently facing. During a conversation with a mentor, the barrier to the unknown gets broken down and the confidence is rising.

Michaela Clement-Hayes: You can practise! Try out presentation skills, interview questions, general business chats. It’s always good to ask others – no matter how much experience you have, you can always learn from someone else. Even if they have less experience than you, they may know things you don’t! 

Do you think lockdown will help or hinder getting a mentor?

Ajaz Hussain: Be proactive. Use the UCL Bentham Connect platform to overcome the artificial barriers that lockdown might have created. There are more mentors available than students reaching out. We’re a helping hand away. Lockdown or not you need to take (sometimes small) intentional steps towards your goals. Mentors expect you will demonstrate those professional behaviours that the workplace is seeking. Reach out. Be courteous. Stay focused. Be flexible and patient. The positive change you are seeking, will come.

Michaela Clement-Hayes: You can be more flexible. It’s not the same as F2F but it’s easier to jump on a 20-min call with a mentee, rather than drive to meet them in a coffee shop. See what works for you. But – it’s worth getting used to video calls. They’re not going anywhere and businesses expect confident employees who can talk using Teams / Zoom etc.

Why do you think it’s beneficial for students to connect with alumni mentors?

Eeva Ellenberg: Building a relationship with mentor who is working within the sector that you would like to enter is useful because you can gain insight into how they got their foot in the door. Getting that first role without much previous experience is often the most difficult part. They can put you in touch with a recruiter that they may have worked with in the past, or even a hiring manager.

Conor Courtney: I can keep this answer short- they have so much experience to offer. Reading about an industry or a job is not the same as hearing about it from someone who has experienced it.

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