Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme
BA Political Economy, 2022
Mentored by Dr Marilyn Comrie
Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme
“Thanks to the scheme I’ve become more confident, determined in achieving my goals and have a clear plan in mind; something I wouldn’t have achieved without my mentor. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to build on and strengthen their future aspirations, so make sure you apply!”
Tell us a bit about yourself, your mentorship and what you gained from taking part in the mentoring scheme.
I always thought my dream was to go into politics - maybe even diplomacy - and it seemed to make sense given it's such a big part of my university degree. My studies reinforced my passion to tackle political and societal issues, but they also made me realise that the traditional political arena isn’t for me. That's the beauty of degrees in politics though; they teach you that everything is political, including tech and data.
So somehow in my free time in my second year, I found myself learning about computer science, marketing, and entrepreneurship. I was working here and there and with the help of B-Enterprising I was on my way to developing my own start-up…but I still felt a bit lost. My mentorship with Dr Marilyn Comrie - Director of the Blair Project and CEO of Manchester Innovation Activities Hub - gave me not only the knowledge but most importantly the confidence to make a plan and take my goals to the next level. Now I’ve applied for a Master’s degree in Computer Science and have a step by step plan for setting up a business!
Did you have any preconceptions about the mentoring experience that were challenged as a result of your experience?
Before our first meeting, I was very excited to meet Marilyn, though whenever I thought of our upcoming get-together I had a sense of anxiety coming at me. I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be mentored by such an inspiring woman, but it also felt daunting. Making sure I was prepared for our meeting soothed my nerves; my mentor’s kindness and friendliness definitely helped the most! After our first get-together, I realised there was no need to be nervous and from every meeting since I have left with an uplifted and empowered mood.
One piece of advice you learnt from your mentor you could share with other students/graduates?
My mentor has shared a lot of invaluable advice on academic and professional success, achieving personal goals, and overcoming inequality barriers. Though what stuck with me the most was when Marilyn shared the ups and downs of setting up a business and of being the only woman in the room. The best piece of advice my mentor gave me was to not worry about what other people think or say and to not give up, as long as you enjoy and are passionate about what you do. Hearing about her experience on this was refreshing and empowering, because if someone you look up to can overcome such barriers, then why shouldn’t you be able to?
Can you share any top tips for making the most of the mentoring opportunity and how to be an effective mentee?
No matter how organised your mentor is, take initiative. Not only does it show you are grateful to your mentor for their time but it also allows you to build on your time management skills. Plan meetings beforehand, send follow-up emails, set agendas for each meeting, and recap what you discussed last time and how you built on it since. It’s also important to consider both of your busy schedules. In your final year, there will probably be periods when you’re focusing more on exams or applying for future studies and/or jobs. Schedule around that or even incorporate that in your mentor meetings; I got some great tips on applications from my mentor.
Why would you recommend the scheme to other students?
The scheme is great for everyone and anyone no matter where you are in your life. If you’re someone like me who had an idea in mind but wasn’t sure and needed a nudge in the right direction, someone who has a clear plan and wants tips on how to secure and build on your goals, or even if you have no idea yet and want to figure it out - apply! It is an incredible and unique opportunity to gain insight and network with others in your prospective field. Thanks to the scheme I’ve become more confident, determined in achieving my goals and have a clear plan in mind; something I wouldn’t have achieved without my mentor. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to build on and strengthen their future aspirations, so make sure you apply!