Theresa - MA Archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean and Near East
In an increasingly competitive job marketing having insight into your chosen industry and knowing someone who can give advice about unadvertised posts can be incredibly valuable. It also gives you the opportunity to meet an expert who understands your situation, perhaps even studied with your tutors and is generally fun to get away from the often more solitary activity of job hunting and application forms.
I had a tinge of aversion to the idea of 'networking,' it conjured up a rather forced, even potentially embarrassing, social situation. An appointment with a very helpful and understanding careers coach helped alter my perception by demonstrating what a potentially enriching and vital part networking plays within all the sectors that interest me most; arts, heritage, media. After being told about UCL's mentoring scheme and remembering that using a similar scheme at my previous university had led to a short-term paid position doing something I had really enjoyed, I decided to give it a go. The UCL scheme made it very easy to find and arrange a meeting with my mentor, who turned out to be a lovely and like-minded person. Over coffee, I learnt a lot of very interesting tips from her, on how to develop the necessary skills, get onto internships and acquire paid work in museums and heritage.
Meeting with the UCL mentor has injected my job search with renewed enthusiasm. It helped me to affirm my interest in a chosen career path, understand my strengths, as well as identify what needed to be built upon. The meeting has also helped me gain the necessary confidence to network much more readily within the sectors I'm interested in. I have made many more contacts after and feel much more positive about my prospects, which have become much more exciting since. I have come to realise networking is great fun, very rewarding and that you can make of it whatever you want; contacts, future colleagues and employers or interesting friends to learn from and share experiences with.
Natasha - BSc (Hons) Psychology
I found a potential mentor through the UCL Web Alumni Community, on searching for alumni that had a career within the advertising sector. The advertising sector was an industry that I had never previously considered for myself, and so I really was starting from square one. I was hoping to acquire as much information as possible, in order to gauge whether or not it may be a profession that I could be suited to. Following an initial email asking whether she would be able to offer some advice or insight into the industry, we organised a meet up for that same week. What was planned to be a quick coffee ended up lasting a good two hours! I gained an invaluable wealth of information and had established an incredibly useful and insightful contact within the industry.
At a point in which I felt most despondent in my career planning process, contacting a mentor helped me gain confidence in the resources I had available to me. It really opened my eyes to how useful networking can be and provided me with the opportunity to talk through how others have established that initial footing on the first rung of the career ladder.
The opportunity to talk through elements of an industry which were, at that point, completely alien to me was really invaluable. People are a lot more willing then you may think to share their own personal experiences with others with the view of helping them through their own learning.
Sarah, UCL Graduate
My experience meeting with a UCL mentor was very positive. I found my mentor with the help of UCL alumni services. I wrote to her and got a reply very quickly. We met in a coffee shop and had an interesting talk that lasted about two and a half hours and that covered many aspects of the field I am interested in. What I really appreciated is that she carved a slot in her busy schedule to meet me, so that I never felt that our meeting was rushed. She was ready to answer all my questions and really took her time. She helped me to orient myself in the field, sharing organisation names and possible positions in the profession that I would never have thought about. She also gave me very pertinent ideas as to how to go about gaining useful experience in the field. In addition, she asked me extremely valid questions as to my motivations to start in the field. All in all an eye-opening and valuable experience.