Hello, my name is Aloyva and I graduated in Chemical Engineering from Birmingham in 2018. I took part in the Careers Network Mentoring Scheme from December 2019 to June 2020. My mentor is a Project Management Professional who specialises in delivering large-scale infrastructure projects in the port and maritime industry. Since I was an international student, we chose to speak on Skype and met once every month. What I wanted to get out of the mentoring was an outside perspective on which skills I could improve on. My mentor was very helpful to me in this area because of their project management experience and they gave me a big picture view of how different skills such as leadership, technical skills, and networking all come together to solve business challenges.
Advice from mentor
One piece of advice I got from my mentor was clarification on the difference between leadership and management. A manager can be thought of as someone who robotically pushes their demands onto their team to try and achieve a group goal. A leader on the other hand is someone who forms meaningful, not superficial, relationships with their team and instils a sense of personal drive in each team member to achieve the group goal. They are fine with delegating tasks and don't feel the need to unnecessarily micromanage. This was quite motivating to me because I can more easily picture myself as a leader who collaborates with and inspires their team rather than being a pushy manager who instead has an estranged relationship with them.
Top Tip for mentorship
My top tip for making the most of the mentoring opportunity is to keep a meeting minutes document. Before every meeting, think about what you would like to discuss with your mentor, write it down in the document, and then share it with them. It could be a paragraph, or it could be a few bullet points. But the most important thing is to know what you want to discuss and how this contributes to your learning or your goals. Then, at the end of every meeting, write down the key points from the conversation so that you don't forget any invaluable pieces of advice your mentor may give you. Over time, you will probably spot trends in what you and your mentor discuss which will help you decide if the conversations are helping you as they are or if you'd rather take a different approach. I would stress however that this relationship is driven by you, the mentee, so it's up to you to decide what you want to learn from your mentor.