Hannah, please can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about the Career Mentor Scheme?
My name is Hannah and I am in my final year at Exeter studying BSc Geography with Applied Geographical Information Systems (GIS). This is my second time participating in the Career Mentor Scheme, which is a 6-month programme, running twice a year, that matches current students and recent graduates with a sector professional.
Throughout the six months you’re expected to meet either online or in-person for at least 1 hour a month, although you can meet as many times as you and your mentor would like! At the start of the scheme you set career goals for yourself, such as improving your CV or applying for placements or graduate jobs, and during the meetings you get 1:1 advice, guidance and help on reaching your set goals.
“Going on the scheme improves your employability, as you can show you have been proactive in sourcing a 6-month mentorship and taken the initiative to improve your transferable skills.”
What have you done during your partnership so far?
My mentor works in the Earth Science sector. The scheme started in December so we are just over half-way through the partnership. They have been really helpful so far! I have started to apply to graduate jobs and further study and they have reviewed my CV and applications, and given useful feedback that enabled me to make my applications as good as possible! As a result of my strong applications I was given interviews at most of the places I applied to, and they helped me prepare by conducting a virtual mock interview. They created questions specific to the job and skills involved as well as personal attribute questions. I felt much more confident going into the interview after my meeting with them and I was able to prepare examples and skills after discussing my answers to some common interview questions. In my real interview they asked several of the same questions as my mentor, so I could use and expand upon some of my examples. I am thrilled to say I got the job and I know a big part of this was due to the preparation and advice I was given on my application.
“They have been really helpful so far. I have started to apply to graduate jobs and further study and they have reviewed my CV and applications, and given useful feedback that enabled me to make my applications as good as possible.”
Why did you apply for the scheme?
I saw the scheme advertised around campus and decided to find out more about it (the link to the website is at the bottom of the page). When I applied the first time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so I thought speaking to a mentor in the Geography field might help me narrow down my options. I enjoyed my first time on the scheme, and it was instrumental in helping me source a second year summer placement as my mentor worked in the same field as my placement. It also showed I am proactive and used my initiative to source a mentorship, which gave me something to talk about in my interview.
I decided to apply for the current scheme during the first term of third year. I knew it would be very helpful for someone with experience of applying to further study/jobs in my sector to give me guidance, and I knew that as the scheme is very flexible I would be able to balance it alongside my dissertation, part-time job and other commitments.
“I would say to definitely apply. No matter what stage of your career planning you’re at, having a mentor to discuss your ideas with is very helpful.”
What would you say to someone thinking of applying?
I would say to definitely apply! No matter what stage of your career planning you’re at, having a mentor to discuss your ideas with is very helpful! Many of the mentors are Exeter alumni so they have been in our position and made the leap from a degree to the job market. Your mentor can provide insight into your subject sector or give you advice on applications, it is really up to you and what you want to get out of the scheme – some mentors can even help you find work experience or networking opportunities. I would say that the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.
There are mentors from all different sectors and working all around the world on the scheme, so there is most likely one in the field you’re interested in! Going on the scheme improves your employability as you can show you have been proactive in sourcing a 6-month mentorship and taken the initiative to improve your transferable skills. This means the scheme is a great thing to talk about at interviews or put on your CV.
What is the application process like?
It is first-come first-served. All the mentors have profiles on Handshake with information about their job, qualifications and skills they can offer to a mentee (such as mock interviews or work experience). Once you have found the mentor you would like to apply for there is a link to a Microsoft Form. There are four main questions to answer to apply, which relate to careers research, suitability and what you’d like to get out of the partnership. I would recommend writing your answers to these in a word document as it’s easier to check the spelling and grammar. It’s really useful to add lots of detail and examples in your application to demonstrate any points that you make.
Using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) technique is really important in your application, and is great practice at mastering the technique ahead of job applications. Employers love this way of writing an application as it gives specific examples and sets out in detail what steps you took to overcome a problem or achieve something. The more detail you can add about this the better! The Career Zone has workshops such as Effective Application skills if you decide you need some help on writing your application. Your mentor is sent your application so it is important to tailor it to their profile, as you would with a job. This may sound like quite time-consuming but it took me around 45 minutes to apply, which is something you could do in between lectures or over lunch.
“If you have any questions about the application process or the Career Mentor Scheme in general, the team who run it are really helpful and always welcome any emails, so don’t be afraid to reach out.”
Once you and your mentor are given contact details, you are expected to take the lead in contacting them and organizing your first meeting where you can get to know one another. The scheme is definitely worth the time spent applying as it can open a lot of opportunities! If you have any questions about the application process or the scheme in general, the team who run it are really helpful and always welcome any emails, so don’t be afraid to reach out. Their email address is: .
Applications for the new scheme are open now. I hope that I have shown you how great the scheme is and why you should apply! Remember to look on Handshake and get your application in early so you don’t miss out!
You can find out all the details about the Career Mentor Scheme here: https://www.exeter.ac.uk/careers/employability-schemes/careermentorscheme/