September 1, 2022, by Leah Sharpe
How the Career Mentoring Scheme Helped Me Achieve My Goals
By Lucy Woodward, Physics student
I applied to the Career Mentoring scheme with the hope of getting a clearer understanding of what sorts of careers I’d be well suited to. After my application was accepted I was matched with Keith Bound, whose work in the ‘Science of Storytelling’ interested me. I’m a physics undergraduate but continually find myself drawn towards more creative endeavours, so this combination caught my attention when shortlisting mentors.
We had four Zoom meetings between November and March. In our first meeting, we set out some mutual goals for the career mentoring process. Keith’s aims were to inspire and encourage me to achieve my goals and express my authentic self. He made it clear that I should feel comfortable to open up to new possibilities and ideas for what my future career might look like and that he would support me in whichever ways he could.
I had already been researching careers in science communication, which remains a strong interest of mine. Therefore, my aims were to gain a broader and more in depth understanding of the science media industry through our career mentoring sessions and to listen to Keith’s advice to help me form a clearer idea of what sort of roles would be best suited for me.
There was always a lot to digest and think about following the meetings and I feel I had actionable steps to meet my goals.
What I learnt?
Keith has helped me to appreciate that just as with personal goals, it’s important that career goals are authentic to you as an individual. A technique suggested by my mentor which I found very helpful was to create a big mind-map of all my different interests to see what ideas emerged. Some of his words of advice for this: write down anything and everything. Don’t judge yourself or second guess how useful the interest could be. It’s unique to you, so there’s no wrong answers and also no commitment to anything you write down.
Once all the seemingly random interests are on the page, you can start to find links between them. For me, ‘travel’, ‘climate change’ and ‘nature’ could be linked under the umbrella term ‘environment’. The encouragement from my mentor to look at what I genuinely find interesting rather than prioritising other people’s ideas of successful careers was very refreshing. It might sound obvious but I realised that finding a job I am passionate about has to start with seeing my interests as important rather than unnecessary.
After recognising my strong interest in communication, I said yes to opportunities to practice public speaking skills, such as at the Physics Offer Holder Days. I also applied to a wide range of different internships, attended several interviews and was offered a place on a Net Zero Policy Internship at The Science and Technology Facilities Council this summer.
I feel more confident in the direction I want to move towards my career. However, this is accompanied by an understanding of the inevitable uncertainty and change that will come. While we’re often led to believe we need to have everything figured out, I think a more helpful attitude is to embrace the not knowing where things will take you.
If you’re interested in gaining support with your career goals by a member of our alumni community, find out more about the benefits and how to apply.
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