The Career Mentoring Program: A Q&A

By Seth Robinson

“Undertaking a mentorship is a unique experience for each pair, my advice is to go into it open minded”. We spoke with Charlotte Hamilton, and her mentor, Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science (2011) alumnus Daniel Begala, to find out about their experience of the Career Mentor Program.

Charlotte – Why did you apply for the career mentoring program?

I applied for the career mentoring program at the start of my second year of university, because I had found mentoring valuable in the past, and I wanted to gain a sense of confidence in the direction I was heading. The possibilities when leaving University are endless; even though you do not need to know exactly where you want to be when you graduate, you need to be confident in yourself and what you decide. Without this confidence, I believe you look hesitant and unsure of what you are after – which I think is an unattractive quality in the way you present yourself, particularly in front of potential future employers.

Getting to a stage where you can comfortably talk about what you’re looking for requires a lot of research and self-reflection. I thought the mentoring program would be an interactive way to learn about the industry and where I might fit in it.

Daniel – What kind of value do you think there is in mentoring programs?

This is my third year as a participant in the Career Mentoring Program (CMP), and I guess that alone confirms how highly I regard the program and the value it creates. The benefits of the program are plentiful, as it provides a lucrative opportunity for both parties – mentor and mentee – to develop vital skills applicable to your future work place, start-up and sometimes, life. It’s a fantastic program and I’m a keen advocate of the CMP.

Charlotte – What was your experience like, working with Daniel?

Daniel and I caught up once a month for coffees, some more relaxed and others with set agendas that I made prior to the meeting. Although the relationship is quite formal, it’s really obvious that your mentor is there to support you and there is flexibility in changing the logistics of your meetings throughout if it isn’t working out the way you wanted.

Daniel – What was your experience like, working with Charlotte?

Charlotte was very engaged and proactive from the get-go, so our experience together was of a high calibre. I enjoyed working with Charlotte as she consistently delivered on our monthly goals (such as CV preparation), and demonstrated significant personal development throughout the program. She was also very inquisitive, grateful and displayed a keen interest in my profession and career.

Charlotte – What did you gain/learn from your mentor? Was there something that you’ve found particularly valuable?

Daniel and I went over the obvious things on the mentoring agreement, strengthening my networking skills, refining my cover letter and resume, discussing different work experience opportunities and insight on finding the “right” career. The things I found particularly valuable was Daniel’s attitude towards workplace etiquette and the ways he motivated himself by remaining true to himself. I remember he passed on advice from various mentors he himself had, including working 10% harder than everyone else to get ahead, with an emphasis on the true value of hard work. He reiterated how important it is not to lose sight of yourself, maintaining a side hustle and doing every opportunity you can – from international exchange to simply attending industry nights.

- Daniel and Charlotte

Daniel – What was your approach when it came to mentoring Charlotte? Did you think there was anything you could offer that was particularly valuable?

“Two ears, one mouth” – that was the motto. I was there to act as Charlotte’s sounding board and point of reason for any queries or tasks applicable to the program. I could harp on all day about the value mentors create, but it’s worth highlighting the unheralded impact of the mentee as they too inspire people like myself with their knowledge, mindset and new-age thinking. We have, however, blazed the trail of early corporate life and the insights are undoubtedly beneficial to mentees on the verge of their first professional role.

Charlotte – Was there anything particularly surprising about your experience in the program?

I was surprised how much exposure you get to industry if you are willing to go after it. Both the mid-year and end of year functions were a fantastic opportunity to network with professionals. With tips and challenges from Daniel I was able to initiate intelligent and friendly discussions with both mentors and mentees, in which I genuinely noticed an improvement in my confidence between the two events. It was great to see how accommodating participants on both ends are, with offers from both other mentors and mentees to catch up again after both events – you can still create those relationships and get advice from someone in a different area if you so desire.

Daniel – Did you learn/gain anything from the experience of being a mentor?

The experience of being a mentor to Charlotte and witnessing her development over the past year reiterates to me the importance of maintaining a network of mentees across your life and career. Whether they’re formal or informal relationships, I’ve now learnt that the development curve can be fast-tracked with the aid of a mentoring relationship. I’ve now set goals of forging new mentoring relationships with people to sharpen certain dynamics of myself.

Charlotte – What’s one piece of advice you would offer other BCom Students who might be thinking of undertaking a mentorship?

Undertaking a mentorship is going to be a unique experience for each pair, my advice is to go into it open minded, have concepts you want to explore but no strict expectations of how you want it to be. The best attitude is to be flexible, your mentor may be interstate but that doesn’t mean they don’t have any good advice to share with you so ensure you put in the effort.

In this program – as cliché as it sounds – I’ve found that the more you put in, the more you get out of it. So, I would encourage you to come into this program willing to dedicate your time to it, to prepare for meetings, and I believe then you will find it really rewarding. It is equally as important to prepare for the networking events, as they can be really very useful if you’re able to talk intelligently to others. However, that doesn’t mean you have to stress, mentors are also very understanding of competing time constraints and although, perhaps not as beneficial, you will still get something out of having a more relaxed relationship without the strict agendas and set questions to ask for each meeting.

It’s really easy to feel alone at University, and it’s nice to be able to return to the same person for advice rather than perhaps a different University advisor every couple of months or so.  In my opinion, there is nothing to lose in applying for this!

Daniel – What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to graduates entering the business world?

The first piece of advice I’d offer is to sign up immediately for the Career Mentoring Program, as it’s an amazing learning opportunity and point of differentiation for all aspiring graduates. For those kicking off Summer Internships and Graduate Programs shortly, I’d suggest you focus on building rapport, relationships and doing all of this with a growth mindset and thirst for learning.

If you would like to find out more please register here for the program commencing in April 2019. Applications close March 2019.