Careers Network Mentoring Scheme
BA History, 1st year student
Hi, my name's Liz and I'm a history student at the University of Birmingham and I took part in the Careers Network Mentoring Scheme in the year 2020 to 2021. The main thing I gained from the experience was that it kept me grounded in such a challenging year.
As a first-year student and with everything with COVID-19 and how isolated I could feel during that time, having someone to talk to every month and having this certainty that I would be able to discuss something that's important to me such as my career goals was extremely helpful for me, as well as the self-esteem and the insight into the sector that I gained. I joined the Scheme hoping to get an insight into the heritage sector and also to have help with my CV and cover letter writing, as one of my main aims for the first year was to gain a placement that I could possibly do in second year. Thankfully I succeeded in gaining a placement and it was a good time as I could choose which placement I wanted.
I had a few interviews, and I was able to decide on somewhere that really suited me, and I think that the help that I got from my mentor, in terms of support and having someone to discuss things with, was really helpful and one of the key things that helped me really ace the interview for my placement. I'm extremely grateful for that. The monthly meetings my mentor and I had really helped me out and we even got to have two in-person meetings as lockdown restrictions started to lift. I'd definitely recommend the experience.
Advice from mentor
The key things that my mentor taught me that I would like to pass on is that career paths are rarely straightforward and fixed. I was concerned that I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do or that maybe committing to one specific role for a placement would limit me, hold me back from anything else that I could do, and confine me to one space.
My mentor taught me that career paths are rarely straightforward and that it's completely normal to change your mind now in university. Even when you're in the working world itself, people often move around and change their career path and that's not just normal but that's completely okay and exciting.
It means that finding your career and finding the sector you want to work in is somewhat of a journey but an exciting journey at that and that this shouldn't be something that you should be worried by, it should be something you embrace and you know to make the most of the experiences you can get because, no matter what, they will be useful. Even if you're confused now, you know everything will work out in the end and you'll be in a career that you hope to be, as long as you're putting the work in and trying many different things.
Top Tip for mentorship
My top tip for making the most out of the mentoring experience is to firstly be proactive in your experience and what you want to gain out of the meetings. I'd recommend that you need to remember why you're in the process, what are your end goals and once you realise what you want to achieve then you can tailor your meetings monthly to try and help build on these goals. You don't need something very specific as a plan. For example, if you decide one week that you would love some help on CV writing then it might be a good idea to maybe write a draft of a CV prior to the meeting that you can take with you and discuss so you have something to work on. Remember that the mentorship works both ways and that you need to contribute just as much as your mentor does for you to truly get the most out of the experience as you will be the one benefiting from this. The more effort you put in, the more proactive you are about your meetings, the better the outcome is going to be for the most part and the more rewarding the experience is going to be.