The Bristol Mentors scheme matches successful applicants with an alumni mentor who will help you explore ideas, share advice and give you an edge to break into the job sector that interests you.
To celebrate Bristol Mentors now being open for applications for the class of 2023/24, we caught up with Lucy (BA English Literature, 2019) and Grace (MA Law, 2019) to hear about their experiences as student mentees on the programme.
Both former mentees have since taken the role of mentor for two current students. From mentee to mentor, and student to graduate, they are full of valuable experiences worth sharing!
So why is it worth finding a career mentor?
Lucy and Grace reflected on the mentoring support they received and highlighted five very good reasons:
1. Source of motivation and inspiration
Everybody’s career journey is different and getting to know someone that understands the transition out of university can really help. Your mentor may well have followed a career route that you hope to take, or know someone who has.
Lucy told us, “it was so good just to just hear from someone who I felt had been in my position at uni. My mentor had studied a humanities subject like me, so it was interesting to see what she had done since, to get to where she was. I know when I was at uni, I either romanticised what working would be like or was really scared. It was really nice to hear from someone who could explain how some days are really hard, but overall, it can be really great and rewarding.”
2. Real professional insight
Bristol Mentors aim to provide honest insight into what professional sectors look and feel like based on their lived experiences.
Grace highlighted the importance of these insights as she pursued a career in law: “my mentor was very open with me about her career and some of the challenges she had faced. She didn’t sugar-coat her role and she was very honest with me. When you’ve got a mentor, that’s a perfect opportunity to ask silly questions without any kind of judgement. It can feel very reassuring.”
Having a mentor can help you dispel any myths or misunderstandings you may have about a role, give you a clearer sense of whether it is the right path for you, and if so, what you need to do to get there.
3. Sounding board for YOU
Having a mentor gives you a unique opportunity to focus on your personal growth and development. Bristol Mentors provides a safe space to discuss your skillset and reflect on strengths you have developed from past experiences.
Grace told us that; “having somebody to support me, really helped me build my confidence up. I’ve come out of it a lot stronger. I would say at the time that was probably the most useful thing to me – having someone that I could relate to, share my worries, concerns, hopes, dreams, all of those things.”
4. Make a plan and be accountable
Graduate job opportunities rarely fall into your lap. Everyone needs to figure out their own path to try and reach their ambition. However, a mentor can be a vital sounding board to the steps and goals you set yourself – helping you stay on track and assess what is realistic.
Both Grace and Lucy were able to shadow their mentors in their places of work and were supported to find work experience opportunities during the programme. Lucy told us;
“We had quite a few calls and off the back of one call I applied for work experience at a Bristol newspaper, which I got – that was really useful for me. My mentor also let me shadow her for a day at the offices in London at The Guardian, which was super interesting.”
5. Tackle your self-doubt
Our mentors helped Lucy and Grace grow in self-awareness and overcome feelings of ‘imposter syndrome’ when thinking ahead to life after university.
Grace explained; “I learned to celebrate my own personal experience, rather than trying to fit an image I had in my head. I think that’s something I wish I’d learnt earlier as a student. I think I was always comparing myself to the other people on my courses. I realised – ‘no! celebrate your individuality and your background and your experiences’ because those are the things on paper that make you stand out.”
Lucy rounded off by telling us that Bristol Mentors “is really good for improving accessibility and inclusion. I just have really positive things to say about the experience. Now, I find being a mentor really fulfilling.”
Bristol Mentors is now open for applications for 2023/24.
Check your eligibility and start an application by visiting our programme webpage.
Bristol Connects is a free online platform that allows current students to connect and interact with Bristol Alumni.
Look out for ‘Career Experts’ who are alumni that have volunteered to provide career advice and answer questions you may have.