Careers Network Mentoring Scheme
MEng Civil Engineering with Industrial year, 2025
Mentored by Phill Kelly
Tell us a bit about your mentoring experience
My name is Chad, and I am currently studying an integrated master’s degree in civil engineering. At the start of my second year of study, I decided to apply for a personal mentor through Careers Network in order to enhance my engagement with my career path and begin to think about opportunities that could further my knowledge, skills, and expertise within my field of study. The mentor scheme was super easy to sign up for (30 mins max.) and the most beneficial part is that it's tailored to your needs as best as possible! I was paired with an industry expert in the field of Engineering who has had a career of extensive experiences and responsibilities. They are currently head of sustainability at a global architecture, engineering, and consultancy company called Ramboll, therefore as we had similar career interests and common knowledge in some areas, not only could we discuss career related topics such as CVs and job opportunities, but we would often talk about our personal interests and the current affairs in engineering. This helped to build a positive rapport and a sense of informality.
Did you have any preconceptions about the mentoring experience
that were challenged as a result of your experience?
Prior to beginning the mentor scheme, I was anxious to meet my mentor because of his vast accomplishments and such a senior role at a renowned company. However, this preconception was soon conquered when my mentor invited me to the local Ramboll offices so that we could meet face to face and get to know each other briefly. Upon arriving at the office, I was immediately greeted with a warm welcome, and after a short tour of the offices I felt reassured that my mentor was truly invested in me. Following our introduction, my assertiveness in future interactions exceeded and this helped me to open up to my mentor about my aspirations and hopes for the future. Overall, this experience gave me the confidence to try other new opportunities outside of my comfort zone, and also to broaden my professional network.
What is one piece of advice you learnt from your mentor you could
share with other students/graduates?
During my mentorship I gained an abundance of invaluable advice, however one piece of advice that was of extreme value to me was that if you fail to prepare, you should prepare to fail. This is a very broad phrase that can apply to almost any situation, but for me it was very beneficial in encouraging me to familiarise myself with the core values of companies and what attributes they desired from their employees when I was applying for placement opportunities. Moreover, my mentor explained to me that it is very important to take time to consider what you are really passionate about (both in your career and personal hobbies), because when it comes to interviews employers don’t just want to be overwhelmed with your professional skillset, they want to see that you have character and that you can bring a positive mental attitude to the workplace through your interpersonal skills. I learnt you have to take your work seriously because it is your contribution to society, but you should never take yourself too seriously.
Can you share any top tips for making the most of the mentoring
opportunity and how to be an effective mentee?
My top tip for making the most of this mentoring opportunity would be to firstly ask yourself what you’re hoping to gain from the scheme (specific knowledge? Industry contacts? Advice on CVs and application processes?) and create a list of each of these in order to send to your mentor. This will then give your mentor a perspective on what you want to achieve and allow them to construct a plan of how they might help you in doing so. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to wander off topic sometimes in conversation, as you will often find that being more open minded can introduce opportunities and ideas that you may not have been considered otherwise. Furthermore, I would advise you to be proactive in organising when you would like to meet with your mentor and meet as often as possible whilst still respecting the fact that your mentor may be restricted with time and they are mentoring you out of the good of their own heart.
Why would you recommend the scheme to other students?
Concluding, I would highly recommend taking part in this scheme because it enables you to meet with an industry expert from your field of interest, who has also more than likely followed a similar career path to what you are expecting to follow. The opportunity provides both inspiration and scope. With a tailored mentor, you are also provided with the prospect of finding relevant work experience opportunities which allow you to gain some practical experience and put your knowledge into action. The help you are given during the application and recruitment processes is second to none, with mock interviews, application form advice and also the structuring of a professional CV, you will already be a step ahead of your competitors in the meeting room. I am very grateful for every minute that my mentor spared for me, as it assisted me in securing several interviews and offers for summer placements as well as a paid industrial placement year, which I will be pursuing during the next academic year.