By Laura Dowson, BA (Hons) Illustration, 2nd year.
What is it?
The SHU Career Mentoring Programme is an AMAZING opportunity that pairs students with a professional who is experienced in the subject they study. The relationship is a partnership that focuses on the personal development of the student.
What’s in it for me?
What ISN’T in it for you? To start with, you are taught about how to address industry professionals in the most polite and respectful way. I can’t stress how important this skill is especially in this situation where the recipient is doing you a massive favour. It builds your organisational skills and professionalism, as you are pretty much left to communicate and arrange meetings at a date and time that suits both parties. Mentors themselves sign up to this programme but aren’t always based in Sheffield! The University will pay for any travelling expenses if your mentor is based in London for example, (bonus). You are only expected to meet up with your mentor once a month but be sure to make the most of each session. Cliché, but you really do get out of it what you put in, if you make the effort and ask questions and for advice, you could gain a lot of new knowledge and experience. Also there’s a celebration evening at the end of the programme where you can network with other students and mentors.
As an illustration student, I had no idea what to expect when I first found out who my mentor would be. You are given a piece of paper with the mentor’s bio introducing themselves, what they do and who they have worked for, and shortly afterwards, their contact email address. When I first read Lydia’s bio, the fact that she owns her own business and the big names of the companies she has worked for stood out immediately. If you’re anything like me, you’d probably feel pretty nervous about meeting someone so successful! Little did I know, I had absolutely no reason to be nervous as Lydia was so down to earth and so willing to help, partially because she had benefitted from a mentor herself. We meet up at Neighbourhood café and buy each other a coffee each week. We discuss our projects, and I am often set a small task to complete before our next meeting. Lydia and I have built up a good partnership during the programme that has led to her offering me a couple of weeks working with her on a project in her studio over summer. I am over the moon and so grateful for where this programme has taken me, and I’m really looking forward to gaining experience over the summer!
How do I apply?
The next time to apply for the programme is September 2019 so you’ve got plenty of time! Head to the SHU Career Mentors web pages for the info about what is expected of a mentee. My advice: make sure to really hammer home how reliable, professional and dedicated you are as a student when completing the form. Just do your future self a favour and DO IT!