Adam McKinnon

Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme
BA Politics and International Relations, 2021
Mentored by Dame Cilla Snowball

Tell us about your mentoring experience. 

So the way my mentor has helped me, and I've had Cilla Snowball who's been amazing, is that she has been able to give guidance and advice at every stage of the job search process. So even at the start on our first few calls I remember basically they just constituted for me listing off rambling all these different opportunities I was applying for that that lived in 12 different sectors, I had no focus whatsoever. And I mentioned a specific opportunity that I was going for where you are placed in parliament and you work in an MP's Westminster office. And she stopped me when I mentioned this and she said you sound really passionate about this specific opportunity.

You're talking about it in a way you've not talked about others, maybe you should pursue it more. An outsider saying that and pointing that out was really really helpful because even though yes I was talking about it in a way that I didn't feel with the other opportunities I didn't think I'd realised that myself. That realisation meant that I pulled more energy and more resources into it and I ended up getting that opportunity and that's what I'm going into next year.

It was wonderful to celebrate that and enjoy that amidst all the wrestling with the job market and stuff. But even after I got that job Cilla had been was so helpful in continuing to give me advice and guidance. She set up calls with people that she knew who work in the industry that I'm going into to kind of advise me about next year but also consider some of those wider career questions about what I want to do beyond that and what I want my impact to be.

What advice would you give to mentees? 

So one bit of advice I'd give to mentees coming into the program. Firstly, just a really small practical thing is before zooms (if it's still on Zoom, hopefully not) is wear something smart. Maybe a shirt or something like that. Just because it one, is great to make a good first impression but two, it kind of breaks things up physically.

It gets you in a mindset of working and professionalism that often is hard to get into when you're just in your room zooming looking looking at your computer and so I found that super helpful and the second thing I'd say is one thing reflecting on my experience with Cilla is come into this kind of alumni mentoring scheme with a wider perspective about what your mentor can bring you. Yes it is about helping you to secure a job—I remember I sent about 12 drafts to Cilla of my CV which is far too much—but also it's about other things you know.

It's about kind of bigger questions about what do I want my career to look like overall, what impact do I want to make on the world. You know just just kind of widening the perspective a bit. It's actually quite a holistic service that the Alumni Mentoring Programme can bring you. So come into the program with wide expectations and just dive in.


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