GUEST BLOG: Alumni Mentoring Scheme – a view from both sides

UoY Careers Rocket illy Guest blog written by Crystal Chow, English Language & Linguistics (mentee) and Adelle Desouza (mentor).

The Alumni Mentoring Scheme is a termly programme, open to both undergraduate and postgraduate students, offering the opportunity for students to develop their career planning with the help of an experienced mentor drawn from the University’s extensive alumni network.

Find more information about becoming a part of the scheme on our web page, Get a career mentor.

A mentee’s view – Crystal Chow, Year 1, English Language and Linguistics

“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”-Benjamin Franklin                           

Have you ever asked yourself why you are here at uni? This has always been in my mind ever since my first year started last September. Being an international student, travelling all the way from Hong Kong to York, 16 hours non-stop, it has never been easy for me to be here. Many people may not understand, but some may as you may have undergone this transition as well. Living in a highly competitive city, such as Hong Kong, you have to make yourself stronger in order to stand out in the crowd.

That’s why I am here. I want a successful life ahead. I guess that’s what most of you want as well. But how? You may think “oh, it’s always easy to say than do” and THAT’S TRUE. However, what I deeply believe in is that you can’t just sit there and do nothing and wait for something to come to you; well, you might if you’re lucky enough and there’s really something out there waiting for you. But how often would this happen?

Having thoughts about the future is important. It leads us to our road of success. For many, the main concern would be your future career. You might have no idea about it at the moment or/and you might have started to think about it on your own but have struggled to do so. Don’t worry, that’s what I have had encountered and that’s why I took part in the Alumni Mentoring Scheme (AMS). As you probably know, it’s a brand new scheme which enables students to enhance their career plans with the help of our York alumni. You will be allocated with an alumnus, who is going to be your mentor throughout the term.

My mentor has given me a lot of useful advice and suggestions throughout the mentoring. For instance, relating self-interests to occupations and getting to know more about certain jobs. She has put a lot of effort in it in to our relationship, which is so encouraging and really motivates me to pursue my goals. We sent emails to each other every week and she has always replied to me within 3 days; we even had a little chat on the phone during her spare time from work. I am glad to have such a patient and selfless mentor who helped me a lot and enabled me to make a step toward my goal. We still keep in touch, even though the mentoring has come to an end officially.

It has been a fruitful experience. Not only can I gain an insight from somebody who has done a related degree, but also being able to meet an experienced alumnus who has been working for years to begin to expand my own network. You will actually be surprised by how much you can gain from this. So why don’t you seize your chance and take part in AMS? You won’t lose anything and it’s free of charge! Don’t let yourself regret. Make the most of uni and prepare yourself for a bright future! Good luck!

A mentor’s view –  Adelle Desouza, Management graduate, University of York and Partner Marketing Manager, Enlogic Systems

When I was first asked to be involved in the alumni mentor scheme I wondered what use I would be to anyone having only just made the wobbly step from graduate unemployment to my first full time job myself. At the time, the initial exhaustion of joining the working world was enough to make me consider returning to being a full time student let alone helping other people making the very same jump.

However, in deciding to join the then trial alumni mentoring scheme I soon relived the supposed race against time to find the perfect job before graduation, albeit this time through my students. Reaching out to students and in return receiving their questions and queries made me realise that the scheme was the very crutch that I could have used during my time as both an undergraduate and  an unemployed graduate.

Now, almost 2 years into the scheme, I have worked with a number of students to answer the ever elusive; how do you secure a full time job? The question at the beginning of the 10 week period seemingly a question of life, soon breaks down into a number of scalable variables. Starting discussions with students not around what they want to do but rather what they don’t want to do; a question I was never asked. With students typically not exposed to many areas of the working world, it can be easier for students to digest what they don’t wish to do based on their current exposure. I am a firm believer that you don’t choose a career upon graduation but rather you choose a passion and if you work hard these passions can develop into careers.

Despite my initial fears, being a mentor proved to be very rewarding and truly humbling opportunity, having worried about joining the then XX,000 long term unemployed 16-24s in the UK I spent hours and hours trying out different techniques, attending different tutorials and ultimately using each application as another test for the model. Truth be told, just having someone to speak to you would have made the transition easier. Being able to pass on the small tricks and even more so now having interviewed graduates, sitting on the ‘other side’ of the table proves invaluable to those on the hunt, and at what cost to me, truthfully- none.

Speaking with the students via the platform enabled by the University of York and being the sound board that they need is of no cost to me financially, if anything it allows me to keep an eye on the ever changing face of recruitment and eye catching techniques used by applicants.  Joining the York community as a student and remaining as an alumni mentor is an honour, after all “I wish someone would have said” is a phrase we have all used in the 20/20 vision that is hindsight, it costs nothing but means a lot.