Case studies of previous participants on the ALMP
Find out what previous successful candidates thought of their experiences.
Sarah Fullwood and Phyllida Lloyd
Name: Sarah Fullwood
Course: Media Culture and Society
Mentor: Phyllida Lloyd, Producer of Mamma Mia! and The Iron Lady and Theatre Director at The English Stage
Sarah applied to the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme because she wanted to gain a clear vision for her potential future career and inside knowledge of the media industry, and receive advice and guidance on how to secure invaluable work experience needed to break into the industry.
Sarah’s first meeting with Phyllida was on the set of her new film The Iron Lady where Phyllida set her the task of writing a ‘wish list’ for her future career dreams and aspirations and asked her to focus on the ways in which Phyllida’s knowledge and expertise could help. After creating a rough outline of her ideal job as a Television Producer, Sarah and Phyllida arranged a skype conversation. “The greatest advice Phyllida gave to me was her honesty about the difficulty in breaking into such a competitive industry like the media whilst at the same time, offering me advice and guidance on how to improve my CV and stand out from the crowd.”
As a home student, Phyllida’s advice was to research television production companies here in the Midlands and to contact as many companies as possible in order to gain the vital work experience needed. Thanks to her advice on how to contact these companies and how to conduct herself in a professional manner, Sarah was lucky enough to get two internships at local television production company throughout her final year at university.
“Thanks to Phyllida’s advice about the media industry and how best to apply for work, I realised that Birmingham is in fact the ideal location for me to start my career in Television Production”
Reflecting back on a year of mentoring Sarah says, “I feel I have developed many skills since being involved in the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme, but the main skill I have developed is my communication skills. It is extremely daunting meeting worldwide famous individuals who have made such a significant contribution to their field. But to be able to say that you have met these individuals and have conducted yourself in a professional manner has been a fantastic and thoroughly enjoyable experience.”
"Although Phyllida hasn’t been able to offer me a job on a plate (which maybe why some students would think about applying for the scheme) I feel that I have gained from personally putting her advice into motion and securing myself two internships which have helped me to further develop the skills needed to have a career in the media industry.”
Christopher Jones and Professor Sir Charles George
Name: Christopher Jones
Course: Medicine & Surgery (MBChB)
Mentor: Professor Sir Charles George, Chairman, The Stroke Association
Chris applied to the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme because he wanted to develop a greater insight into the academic medicine career pathway and gain advice on the importance of maintaining professional relationships. Chris says, “This was particularly important to me as I had gained a number of contacts completing laboratory research and was unsure of the best way to stay in touch”. Chris also wanted to gain an enhanced awareness of his career progress so far and advice on prioritising curricular and extra-curricular activities.
Talking about the process of applying, and his early feelings on being selected Chris reflects; “Following a written application and – thankfully not-too-scary – interview I was fortunate enough to be paired up with Professor Sir Charles George. A doctor by trade, and eminent scientist and medical politician to boot, Sir Charles has an excellent record in many of the areas in which I wish to focus my career. It was thus with some trepidation and, if I’m honest, an evolving sense of inferiority, that I set out to send my own ‘auto-biography’ to this formidable medical giant. I was not to be let loose with Sir Charles before receiving training, however, and spent a Wednesday afternoon learning about how to make the most of the relationship and the importance of professional communication. Armed with this training, and encouraged by the support of Careers Network, I began to consider what I wished to achieve from partaking in this programme.”
Communicating by email, Chris learned that he and his mentor had many interests in common, and was also able to seek advice about forthcoming job applications and his elective. With an exposure to, and an ability to further enquire about the work of a successful academic physician, Chris gained an insight into the work and life he could expect to have if he achieved his career aspirations. He says, “Taking part in the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme has significantly enhanced my awareness of my own strengths and weaknesses and allowed me to better focus on experiences that will enhance my skills in the future and I am now more aware of areas to build on my CV.”
“I would certainly recommend that other students apply for the ALMP. It not only provides a wonderful opportunity to directly question someone who has achieved well in the career in which you are interested, but also affords you with a chance to speak to that individual on a one-to-one basis about the place their work has had in their life.”
Chris is now completing the final year of his degree.
Edem Kwesi Dei and Martin Devenish
Name: Edem Kwesi Dei
Course: MEng Civil Engineering (International Study)
Mentor: Martin Devenish, Managing Director, Head of Emerging Market Equities, Goldman Sachs International
Edem applied to the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme because he wanted to gain an insight into the world of business, receive feedback on graduate job application forms and do something unexpected that would make his final year a little bit more interesting!
Following an initial telephone conversation Edem arranged to meet Martin and talk over a coffee at New Street Station. After introducing themselves, Edem learned about Martin’s background and the role he was currently filling at Goldman Sachs. “I had previously told him about myself and general interests over the phone so we settled to talking about my 2nd year career aspirations, what I looked to gain from the programme and how he could help me achieve my goals.” Edem found it reassuring to know that Martin was willing to sit and go through a range of applications for graduate jobs.
Further discussions with Martin focused on the importance of soft skills needed to ensure success and on building effective working relationships. They talked about empathy with clients and understanding their needs and the importance of building long term relationships that build up respect and trust.
Edem says “my mentor has been a great sounding board and it has been good to explore different concepts and ideas with respect to the working world but it is interesting to note that the basic principles which underline our conversations – trust, respect, adaptability, the importance of personality, a sense of identity, prioritization and having fun”.
On reflecting whether taking part in the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme has helped his employability Edem comments that his CV will definitely stand out and in a recent interview he was asked about his relationship with Martin. He has learned to be proud of his accomplishments and feels that he has learnt a lot over the course of their conversations.
And a final word from Edem: “If that doesn’t convince you that the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme is worth it, then I am not quite sure what will?”
Edem now has a graduate job working with Balfour Beatty.
Erin-Jane Goulding and Cilla Snowball
Name: Erin-Jane Goulding
Course: American & Canadian Studies
Mentor: Cilla Snowball, Group Chairman and Group Chief Executive of advertising and communications company AMV BBDO
Erin applied to the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme because she wanted to gain a valuable range of experience and insight into the advertising industry. She also wanted to develop relevant skills and improve her application and interview performance as well as gain new contacts and build on her networking skills.
Erin first met Cilla at a University of Birmingham Alumni event at the Houses of Parliament and immediately got to practice her networking skills. Eric was then invited to Cilla’s office in London where they established some key goals from the mentoring relationship and discussed career ambitions and also heard about Cilla’s experiences.
"Following our initial session, Cilla invited me to the Management Today, Inspiring Women Networking Event, for which she was serving as a keynote speaker. The event was hosted in honour of three business women, who were asked to share their stories of success with aspiring women. From this event, I had the opportunity to learn more about my mentor’s experiences, as well as receive key advice and tips from some of the most influential women in business. I was also able to forge new contacts and build on my confidence and communication skills. It was an inspirational evening, from which I left feeling encouraged and even more enthusiastic about my prospective professional career”.
Erin and Cilla continued to meet monthly and Cilla supported Erin with the stresses of her final year. Cilla emphasised the importance of a work-life balance and to seek feedback from her tutors which really helped her perspective on time management. Cilla and Erin also spent time together to tune her application writing skills and interview techniques.
One final word from Erin: “The Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme has been an amazing experience. I feel that my main achievement is forging a strong and long-lasting relationship with my mentor, Cilla. She has been a fantastic support over the past 6 months, and has given me invaluable guidance and encouragement in regards to both my academic studies and career development. I am more confident about finishing university and applying for jobs, and I feel that I have become more pragmatic, organised and resilient as a result of the mentoring programme.”
Erin now has a graduate job with Channel 4.