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The University has opened up its career mentoring programme for the coming year, inviting students – predominantly first years – to listen and learn from experienced professionals. The scheme offers an opportunity for students to co-operate with a mentor in their industry of interest to gain an important insight into their chosen career.
The application process, which ends on Wednesday Week 10, gives students the opportunity to register their interest to be mentored by an industry professional. Mentors give students an insight into their profession and offer careers advice to achieve success in the specified field. The programme intends for students to network and improve their employability using the professional experience of their mentors.
The mentoring partnership is spread across the next year, from November to May, allowing for numerous meetings throughout the period. The organiser of the programme, Claire Lawrenson, spoke to SCAN about the opportunities for students available through the mentoring scheme. “The programme aims to match industry professionals with students. It is mostly aimed at first year students – about to enter their second year – but I do not exclude finalists if they choose to apply for the programme.”
Lawrenson told SCAN about the purpose of the programme, stating that, “we’re aiming to give mentees the chance to enhance their skills on the programme, to find out more about their chosen career path – or one that they’d like to explore further – to build their networks, discover what is within them and how they can use that to their best advantage.”
The mentors, Lawrenson stated, pass on their invaluable professional knowledge and often have a strong connection with the University and its students. “About 75 percent of the mentors are alumni and they have been eager to give back to the University. This was something that they’d have liked to have when they were a student. The mentors don’t get paid for taking part on the programme – all of their efforts are down to goodwill and kindness. The mentees are usually astounded by how ‘normal’ and ‘friendly’ the mentors are, despite being big names in the business world.”
Those who have previously been involved in the programme have been keen to stress their good experiences. Cynthia Lee, who was a mentee in 2012-2013, said that “I know at university that you are spoilt for choice when choosing what to commit yourself to and you have to wonder how relevant and beneficial a programme such as the mentoring programme would be. Having gone through the programme, I can honestly say it was one of the best things I’d participated in.
“What makes the mentoring programme really unique is that it is all tailored around you. The mentor is an alumni of Lancaster University so they know exactly how it feels to not know what you’re doing, or if you do they can advise you on how to get there.”
Lee told SCAN about the personal benefits she experienced from the programme when considering her future career. “Looking for graduate jobs is a scary thing and it was a huge relief to talk it through with my mentor and feel like somebody had my back.
“[My] mentor was able to set up phone discussions with people in his network so I could truly understand what the differences are between brand management or market research. I was able to participate in some invaluable work experience which ignited some real interest and opened my eyes to marketing in the pharma/healthcare industry.”
The programme opened for applications on Thursday, Week 7, and will close on Tuesday, Week 10. The matching process will take place over the summer months and students are informed if they have been successful in acquiring a place during Michaelmas Term 2014-2015. Students can apply by visiting the mentoring webpage which has the link to the application form.