Ruby Swales

Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme 
History and Political Science, 2022
Mentored by Valerie Hughes-D'Aeth

Please tell us a bit about your mentoring experience 

My mentoring experience has been really great and hugely rewarding. My mentor is Valerie Hughes-D’Aeth and she is the current chair of the CIPD, which is the HR professional body and she was the previous HR director at the BBC.

We began my mentoring experience by establishing what I wanted to achieve. By the end of the year, I wanted to have either a job or be on a graduate scheme, or maybe thinking about a Master's. So there was just lots of options up in the air but we began by looking at my CV and making sure that I knew what the different application processes would look like and looking at cover letters and different testing that they would do for graduate schemes, like psychometric testing.

That was the initial meeting or maybe two meetings, and then we moved on specifically to look at HR. I wanted to gain more of an insight into HR and of course Valerie knew ample about that. We looked specifically at the BBC, their organisational structure and HR strategy. That was very insightful to see an organisation of that size and how it operates. I then established that I wanted to maybe pursue a graduate scheme, and I was very keen to get on the British Airways one. So, when I got to assessment centre, we looked at interviews and making sure that I was prepared for any question that was thrown at me, and when you would have to do a presentation and just making sure that I was fully prepared. The questions that I hadn't thought of that they would ask; they were asked and so this meeting with Valerie was hugely beneficial because without it I don't think I would have been as prepared. It just made me much more confident on the day of the assessment centre.

Most recently we've spoken more about long-term goals once I’ve secured this role and what happens next. So, thinking how do you progress throughout your career, how do you make sure that you're in the right role and just keeping yourself in check.

Can you share any top tips for making the most of the mentoring opportunity and how to be an effective mentee?

The advice I would give to mentees would be to be yourself and be confident on the calls, all of mine have been over Zoom, but whether you meet in person, just make sure that you're fully engaged and you're there to learn and to take on various pieces of advice. In terms of being prepared as well, make sure that you're maybe wearing the right thing, something that makes you feel fairly professional. Making sure you've got objectives for the meeting that you want to achieve and various things you want to talk about. This was something I would do, I would email beforehand to see what I would like to talk about, but also think a bit more about it prior to the call and making sure that I can enter into the conversation just as much as Valerie did. As I previously mentioned I do think instead of just thinking short term about getting that role after university, what does five years or ten years’ time look like? This is something that I’ve thought about and so asking these questions now so you can navigate it once you get to it has been really interesting.


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