Case studies of previous participants in the mentoring scheme

Find out what previous successful candidates thought of their experiences.

Catherine Banks

Catherine Banks

Name: Catherine Banks

Course: Accounting & Finance 

Meet Catherine...

Before applying for the program, I had a clear career direction of becoming a Chartered Accountant and hopefully specialising in audit. I was hoping that my mentor would provide insights into the world of work and use it to help me get an internship.

Over the past few months, I have had email contact with my mentor, as well as several phone calls. My mentor gave me a lot of advice, being very honest about his experiences and how I could improve.

I have got to the final stages of two application processes, and have a summer internship with EDF Energy in Internal Audit. I believe that my mentor really contributed to me getting so far in both processes. He gave me insight into what employers may be looking for and helped me from his own experiences. My mentor provided advice for making myself attractive to potential employers. This experience has also helped me think about how to get the most out of my summer internship.

I have both really enjoyed this experience and really benefitted from it too. Thank you for this opportunity. I would really recommend it to all students.

Nina Anckar 

Nina Anckar

Name: Nina Anckar

Course: Business Management with Year in Industry 

Meet Nina...

If you think the transformation from school to university seems like a daunting experience, you might want to prepare for the shock that comes from being a student and suddenly finding yourself stuck with a full-time job.

Applying for a mentor in my 2nd year is something that has helped me with the transformation from university on to full time work at a big corporate, and allowed me to gain some insight in to the working world before starting my placement at Microsoft month back (in July). Before I started my placement, Helen made me think about my personality, what kind of learner I am and the goals I want to set for myself for my year in industry. This was something I would have never thought to do on my own, and now that I understand what kind of a learner I am, I try to utilize this to my benefit. Setting goals has also made think more critically about the year ahead and how I can get the most out of it.

What’s great about applying for the mentoring scheme at Birmingham uni is not only the fact that the mentors have graduated from Birmingham but more importantly so the fact that you are matched with a mentor according to your studies and career interests. I study Business Management so I was paired up with Helen who works as a Business Planning Manager at NHS. Due to her experience she was able to provide me with valuable information related to the field and help me think about my choices and opportunities for the future. Helen and I have kept in contact via the phone, via email and met up at University. I found out it’s not so much about how often you communicate but more about the relationship you are able to establish with your mentor. We don’t communicate in a certain pattern which makes the relationship flexible, but if I have something to ask, I’m comfortable with just emailing Helen which is great!

Having a mentor is also good practise to establishing business-like relationships. Even though the mentoring period has officially come to an end Helen and I are planning to meet up again to have a catch up. The fact that I now have someone I trust and can to talk to outside of Microsoft makes me more comfortable about the year ahead as I know I’ll always have someone to go to for guidance.

Thank you Helen for all your help and guidance this year! 

Melissa Corrigan 

Mel and Jonathan

Name: Melissa Corrigan 

Course: Business Management with Year in Industry

Meet Melissa...

Initially, I thought the scheme was more course and subject based and that I would mainly gain advice and insight on how better to get where I aim to be. However, this was only a small element of the advice and knowledge I gained in having a mentor. Even from the first meeting, I learned more about myself and how I am able to network and some of the other skills I have that I didn’t even realise. Jonathan allowed me to look at my past experiences in a more positive way and how even the small activities benefits me, even down to socialising and organising things with friends. The Mentoring Scheme really helped me and I feel as though Jonathan is a person who is really there for me if I need advice and I feel as though I have gained a friend through the process. He is truly interested in what I achieve and we often email with updates as well as him forwarding information which he feels will help me. Without Jonathan’s advice and guidance, I don’t think I would feel as confident in myself as I do now, along with going for a week’s work experience and taking part in mentoring myself. He has taught me a lot about myself as well as how to look at the industry I want to go into. It is a great experience to be part of.

Musammat Farjhana Parvin 

 Careers icons thought bubble purple

Name: Musammat Farjhana Parvin 

Course: Law (LLB)

Meet Musammat...

I am a second year Law student and heard of the mentor scheme through emails. The scheme was well presented and I have learnt a lot from my mentor. We worked together on the different skills I could use to boost my confidence and to network with people.

Even though I have only had one encounter with my mentor, I think we worked on a lot of things during that meeting. I hope to stay in contact with my mentor even after the scheme ends. I have thoroughly enjoyed being on the mentor scheme and would recommend it to students at the University. 

Rebecca Jones

Rebecca Jones

Name: Rebecca Jones

Course: English Literature and History  

Meet Rebecca...

Whilst a lot of students volunteer for the scheme to further their existing career plans, I was almost the opposite. I applied at the beginning of my second year studying English Literature and History and I was struggling to decide what I wanted to do post-university. I had always had an interest in publishing although the PR industry had started to look more appealing. I was paired with someone who although was working in a different industry now, had a background in PR and had studied the same subject as me whilst at Birmingham. By the end of the scheme I wanted to be in a position where I would be going into my final year with a clear idea of what career I was aiming for, equipped with the skills I would need to get me there.

My mentor and I have kept in touch through email, about once a fortnight. They are pretty substantial and cover a lot of topics, from discussing work placements I had been on to discussing activities that he had been getting involved in his line of work. This has been ideal as it means he can advise me on the things that I am doing whilst giving me an insight into what kind of things he has the opportunity to get involved in. Through a combination of work placements, my own research, and my mentor’s invaluable insight, I now feel that I have a sound understanding of the PR and similar industries, and feel confident that I could apply to jobs and have evidence of the skills I need to get involved.

I found that I benefitted from having someone to inform of any developments as it really pushed me to find the opportunities. My mentor didn’t find the placements for me, but I pushed myself further to find the placements that would be right for me. Since being in contact with my mentor I have gone from not really knowing what PR entailed to having a great understanding. I have undertaken an internship at a Birmingham PR firm, which I really enjoyed, and it has meant that I have been able to start building up a network of contacts in the industry. By developing in confidence and recognising the skills that I would need to develop, I took the opportunity to run for the committee of one of the University’s largest societies, Carnival RAG, and am now a member of committee for the 2012-13 academic year. As I did have an interest in publishing, I still undertook an internship at a magazine publishing company, but found that I enjoyed my experience with PR a lot more, so I am now confident that this is what I want to go into, whilst before I was unsure. I would definitely recommend just giving things a go, if you don’t enjoy a work placement then at least you know it isn’t for you, and no doubt you will pick up some useful skills along the way anyway.

Throughout the scheme, I have learnt how to maintain a professional relationship. My mentor and I have been emailing for almost a year now and the emails have been consistent. The ones I receive now are just as insightful and helpful as the ones at the start, if not more. We are in a position where we know what the other is interested in, so we are able to share events, companies and ideas with each other. Even though the scheme technically runs for just a year, I am sure that we will stay in contact throughout my final year.

I would highly recommend taking part in the mentoring scheme. Even if you don’t know what you want to do (like I did!) it’s a great way to help narrow down your options and your mentor’s insight will help you to decide what is best for you. And if you do know what you want to do it would be equally as rewarding as your mentor will have firsthand knowledge of the experience you will later have.

Rosamund Thomas

Rosamund Thomas

Name: Rosamund Thomas

Course: Geography 

Meet Rosamund...

As a 2nd year Geography student I’m having to give serious thought to my future after my degree. As my subject doesn’t lend itself to a specific career path, I took an interest in the university’s mentoring scheme as a way of having personal guidance on my future. For me, the scheme was an opportunity to gain a professional prospective and advice in regards to my career.

I was allocated a mentor that was involved in the same sector I was interested in and we were given each others email addresses. This allowed initial introductions to be done electronically, getting to know academic history and what we both wanted out of the scheme, in an unpressurised environment. What I liked about the scheme was the idea of equality, it requires effort from both parties to achieve maximum results, so it made me put aside time to actively think about my future. After a couple of emails we set up face to face meetings, usually based on campus or Selly Oak high street. Here we could be more informal, discussing my short/medium/long term goals in the time frame from next academic term to end of university to five years’ time as well as discussing his career path and difficulties he has confronted. He gave me guidance on my CV, identifying areas or skills that may been to be focused on, in addition he gave an insight to what employers seek in new recruits and how you can alter your CV to reflect specific skills with the relative evidence, found not just in work but degree modules or leisure activities. We also covered interview technique and further academic qualifications.

I personally found having the support of designated professional who I had regular contact with very helpful. The scheme forced me to actively think about what I wanted after my degree and how I could prepare for it. It was incredible useful to have a direct point of contact that I could discuss potential work prospects and receive valuable advice and guidance. The continuous involvement meant that he could follow my progress and help me develop.