Starting my career in 2018 as a communications professionals, I enrolled in the AYP Mentor Scheme at the start of 2019. At the time, I had four main goals in mind:
- Improving my networking skills.
- Gaining business development experience.
- Having a better career plan.
- Increasing my expertise in marketing/communications.
Meeting with Calum Lawrie over the course of a few months, we discussed potential projects that would help reach my goals. Thanks to Calum’s constructive advice, I have not only managed to make significant progress with my initial objectives, but also developed abilities I wasn’t expecting in the first instance.
Improving networking skills
Networking isn’t necessarily taught at University and can be nerve-wrecking when you don’t really know how to go about it. Suggesting events and offering practical advice, Calum gave me the tools to feel more confident and comfortable.
By attending different events, volunteering for organisations (such as STEM Ambassadors), and undertaking new tasks at work, I have been able to get a better understanding of my personality, what I am good at, my likes, and dislikes. I realised that knowing yourself is critical and paying attention to your behaviour can set you up for success when facing challenges. Self-awareness is likewise beneficial when exploring and choosing career paths.
Boosting self-confidence for more
To me, a mentor encouraging and challenging you is a great way to become more assertive and confident. Over these past few months, I have felt more assurance in the actions I have been undertaking and now have a clearer picture of the career path I would like to pursue. I now feel I can take more responsibilities in my current role, but also in my personal development. I have recently been appointed as promotions lead and head of fundraising by two organizations; two roles that are giving me more challenges and a great opportunity to strengthen my skills and develop new ones.
I can say the AYP Mentor Scheme has been very beneficial for my professional and personal development. It gave me more focus and confidence. Today, my responsibilities within James Fisher and Sons plc are different from last year and more marketing-focused (which I was looking for!). Being in charge of planning and implementing a marketing strategy for the product line R2S, and on my way to follow a CIM qualification, I am given the chance to significantly develop my career. Special thanks to Calum and the AYP team who have been great support in achieving these outcomes!
In my first blog post, I wrote about the different projects I was going to undertake following my first meeting with Calum. These were networking, creating workshops for STEM Ambassadors and vlogging. Thanks to Calum’s help, I have managed to make significant progress, and our teamwork is allowing us to define practical ideas we will soon be putting into action.
Feeling more confident while networking
Networking was one of the first reasons why I joined the mentor scheme. Not feeling particularly comfortable with this practice, I knew I needed to improve this skill as soon as possible.
As Calum suggested the first time we met, I went to different networking events to enhance this ability. Going to events organised by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce (Business Breakfast, Speed Networking) and other organisations (Junior Chamber International (JCI) Aberdeen), I am glad today to feel more confident. I even find myself looking for additional opportunities to expand my network and learn more about marketing/communications as well as the local economy. Offering good learning opportunities, I intend to attend marketing-specific events such as the ones organised by Gravity Digital Marketing and Modern Marketing.
Planning a STEM Club
Calum and I have likewise been in the process of defining workshops focusing on digital marketing for STEM Ambassadors, to improve my presentation skills, communications/marketing expertise and explore my interest in teaching.
After participating in an online course and two evening training classes arranged by Aberdeen Science Centre, we have started to define and plan a STEM Club demonstrating the benefits of social media and other digital tools in engaging individuals and communities with technology and/or scientific projects. Linked to the “Curriculum for excellence”, these series of 5 – 6 workshops will be tailored to students’ and teachers’ needs and interests. To make this happen, we are currently in discussion with different organisations (notably Robert Gordon University), to ensure quality and valuable content will be delivered.
Calum’s network and knowledge of the educational system have been particularly helpful to define pertinent ideas further. Besides, I believe my upcoming meetings with experienced individuals will add extra confidence and tangibility.
Vlogging – on a mission to kickstart a YouTube channel
My mentor and I have also achieved to determine a vlog concept to develop project management and branding abilities. As an exciting, but also time-consuming and challenging project, we are now focusing most of our interest on it for the following weeks.
After watching videos recommended by Calum and undertaking comprehensive research on Google Trends, VisitAberdeenshire, VisitScotland and YouTube itself to create content according to users’ interest and intent, we have defined a more specific type of channel, a mission and a list of potential subjects.
We aim at producing a vlog on adventures in Aberdeenshire to inspire both locals and visitors to take the road, discover, re-discover the region and live their own adventures. By filming a variety of indoors and outdoors activities, we will be showing Aberdeenshire is a great place for discoveries. Again, to make sure we are generating the right content, Calum has kindly given his valuable advice, points of view and started conversations with local organisations. Considering the effort and time that need to be invested, we aim at publishing the first video in June – July.
I am very grateful for Calum’s help as it has been giving me a clear focus and the opportunity to challenge myself. From networking and volunteering for STEM Ambassadors to vlogging, I have been participating in engaging activities that have allowed me to grow as a professional, but also as a person. I have recently been offered new responsibilities in business development, and I believe my work with Calum is allowing me to enhance a variety of skills and advance in my chosen career paths. Many thanks to Calum and AYP for their continuous support.
Coming towards the end of the Graduate Scheme at ROVOP, I wasn’t sure if becoming a mentee with Aberdeen Young Professionals was for me. I wondered if I was too late in expressing my interest and whether I would receive any substantial benefit from the Mentor Scheme, as I was learning so much through the Graduate Scheme already at ROVOP.
After my first meeting, I can confirm that any doubts have been cleared from my mind. The introduction meeting with Leigh Stott, Managing Director at Hunter Adams and my assigned mentor, could not have gone better in my opinion. We hit it off from the start, got to know about each other and developed some clear outputs for our next meeting, as well as looking into an overall goal.
Leigh’s experience, clarity and genuine excitement towards the opportunities that a young stranger felt he had within his company and career, gave me the confidence that I had a lot to learn from Leigh. Her selfless passion for watching others grow and succeed is clearly a credit to her personality and own success.
Leigh laid out some first steps in enhancing my personal progression within the company and into the role I will take after the Graduate Scheme, which I have condensed into two very simple ideas.
As well as this, Leigh helped me to understand that taking time to look at my own personal progression is not a selfish act. In fact, this benefits the company as well. ROVOP views their young talent as an investment and improving on myself is directly correlated to improving the company.
I am currently on a rotation in our Houston office, assisting the Operations Team in projects being run from the US. I am having a great time and learning loads, but still really looking forward to finding out what the rest of the mentor scheme has to offer when I return to the UK.
Stepping into the unfamiliar can offer unexpected opportunities, sometimes more than we imagine. Before Aberdeen Young Professionals, mentoring was unknown to me, and I did not know what to expect from a mentoring scheme and a mentor. However, the idea of being guided and challenged through a chosen career path was appealing.
In January, I decided to make the big jump and met with my mentor, Calum Lawrie, to discover how I could take the next steps in my career, but also what mentoring was about.
On the 13th of January my questions were answered and a new adventure seemed about to begin following an enriching kick-off meeting. With Calum, we engaged in a constructive discussion which aimed at defining my current situation and ambitions to develop potential projects that would enhance my professional, but also personal development.
Drawing a clearer picture of the situation
Our conversation started with a simple question concerning my role at Return To Scene as a corporate communications assistant. Calum was eager to understand my daily tasks as well as my long-term career development aspirations.
Enjoying my current position focusing on developing communications and marketing strategies, I explained I am mainly aspiring to become Director of communications and marketing, but also interested in other career directions such as lecturing at university and business development - preferring keeping an open mind and leaving the door open to other opportunities.
As my new mentor explained, having different ideas in mind at this stage of my career does not represent a problem and I should instead allow myself to explore different vocational routes.
Having a clearer picture of long-term objectives, Calum asked how he could support me. I consequently presented three main areas where I felt help was needed:
• Networking: Being an unfamiliar practice, I lack confidence while attending networking events. Besides, I am aware it will be a critical skill to master for any career chosen.
• Defining a specific career plan: As I feel career development can be distinct from my country of origin, France, being offered advice on this would be valuable, as it would enable me to define concrete and SMART career goals over time.
• Developing projects that could accelerate my career progression: I am already volunteering for the community interest company (CIC), Crow House Projects, but I would like to investigate other activities that would be relevant to my career aspirations.
Following this outline, Calum suggested a plan of action with new projects to undertake, allowing him to give solid advice and enabling me to acquire new skills. From my day work to volunteering activities that I am already involved in, we determined further opportunities for development.
Drawing upon existing responsibilities to enrich skill sets
To boost my networking abilities, we concluded I should find as many opportunities as possible and leave my comfort zone. By participating in a significant number of offline and online networking events/platforms, I will gain confidence. Calum, therefore, recommended constituting a list of networking activities and organisations.
Furthermore, to advance my communications and marketing role, Calum suggested I could get closer to the Return To Scene’s business development team (e.g. by joining meetings with clients), to better acknowledge the company’s clients as well as their expectations. Being involved in customer-facing situations would facilitate the creation of effective content relevant to their needs. I could likewise explore another side of the business, expanding my skill set.
We also concentrated on volunteering. Being a producer (on a voluntary basis) for the CIC, Crow House Projects, of the science fiction film, Children of Chronos, since February 2017, I have been managing communications (website, social media, and press) and gathering a team to raise awareness of this short. However, I shared with Calum it was sometimes challenging to lead volunteers and move forward some projects. Understanding the importance I was attaching to this film, Calum offered valuable advice on how to delegate work and identify participants’ strengths for more effective task-sharing. He advised keeping volunteering to enhance my communications and marketing expertise as well as managerial/leadership aptitudes.
Finally, Calum suggested I could conduct workshops at Robert Gordon University for pupils aged from 14 to 16 as part of STEM Ambassadors to improve my presentation skills. As a STEM Ambassador, I found this idea compelling, and we talked about producing activities on the use of social media.
Therefore, from networking to delivering STEM workshops, we managed to determine achievable and practical projects corresponding to my initial objectives via an honest and constructive discussion.
Ending our first meeting with an original and challenging idea
Our kick-off meeting nevertheless didn’t end there. As we were starting to plan a solid course of action, a new and surprising idea came up, and the discussion turned out to become even more enriching than I initially thought. This didn’t come from the plan I drafted in advance but from a simple question.
Since February 2018, when I first joined Return To Scene, I have been considering creating a personal website to develop and show my knowledge of communications, marketing, and media. I have drafted a few pages and designs but didn’t pursue the idea as I wasn’t sure of its potential.
I consequently asked Calum the following:
“Do you think a personal website could be beneficial?”
I was waiting for a simple “Yes” or “No”. Funny enough, I was wrong as after careful reflection Calum stated:
“That’s not a bad idea at all; it could be great! However, instead of focusing purely on communications and marketing, why wouldn’t you concentrate on another concept, something more personal and general? What’s your passion?”
I have been a horse rider since the age of 4, so horse riding, outdoor activities and sports have long been playing a significant part in my life. As a result, we came up with the last project to investigate – I could produce a monthly vlog on “things to do” in Aberdeen and its surroundings which would link to my personal website and create an attractive personal brand. The vlog would provide advice to the local communities, which would become a useful source of information. Besides, considering my passion for the film industry, I could include a monthly blog post on films grasping the attention of a niche audience, such as independent French films.
This last concept was the one which sparked the more our imagination and interest. We both agreed the latter would constitute an enriching experience with numerous learning opportunities, and maybe a business venture in the future.
To me, vlogging and creating a personal brand will undoubtedly be a challenge, but also a chance to employ and further skills that I acquired during my education (MLitt in Film and Visual Culture). Implementing such a project will significantly enhance my professional, but also personal development.
Meeting and working for the first time with Calum turned out to be a productive and encouraging experience. Thanks to our professional and informal discussion, we achieved to find common ground and started to define a working strategy that I look forward to implementing. Setting goals relying on a career path and personal determinations will probably set me on the way to discoveries, challenges and a new adventure that I look forward to starting.
With the 2017/18 Mentor scheme coming to an end and the AYP Ball looming, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on the past four months that I have been involved. I originally got involved with AYP because I was in a rut with my career and I wasn’t happy in my job. I felt like everyone around me had their life sussed out and I had no idea what direction to go in and needed some support and guidance.
While in the process of being matched with a mentor I fortunately accepted a new job at Befriend a Child as a Fundraising Manager. I was really excited by the prospect of a new job and taking on a new career and one that I knew would be rewarding with all the wonderful work they do for local disadvantaged children.
I first met Stacy Edghill 5 days in to my new role at Befriend a Child. From our first meeting I knew I had been matched with the correct mentor. Stacy has a similar career background to the one I am pursuing as she is a Event Sales Manager at DC Thomson and she has to network and gain sponsorship from companies which is a big part of my work.
I didn’t expect to gain as much as I have from my time with Stacy. If anyone knows Stacy, you know that she is a very busy woman and does so much out with her job. However, this never stopped her from providing me with her wealth of knowledge and supporting me with any questions I had. She always made time for me, even if it was just a quick email to answer a question I had.
The relationship is very focused on what I want to get out of it. Stacy puts me at the centre and she wants to help me grow as an individual and in my career.
I want to thank Stacy for everything she has done for me and I have learnt so much from her and can’t wait to see what else I can learn. I would encourage anyone to get involved with the AYP Mentor Scheme because it is invaluable to have someone you can go to. I want to stress that I have a fantastic team around me at Befriend a Child and a very supportive one at that but it is great having an outside perspective and someone who just wants the best for me.
My experience with the AYP Mentor Scheme 2017/2018 has been a great eye-opener to a professional career. With Rod Hutchison as my mentor, the opportunity has allowed me to gain a first-hand insight into the legal sector. Throughout the meetings, Rod has been very helpful and has provided me with valuable advice for gaining a placement, traineeship and career routes as a solicitor.
Since the last blog, we have covered topics such as: improving my CV, creating a model cover letter for summer placements, general advice about the roles of a trainee, career options and the work duties of a corporate solicitor. The Scheme has allowed me to create a cover letter and CV which I will send out next week to potential placement firms. Rod has also given me advice for interviews and has continuously encouraged me to be myself. Throughout the Mentor Scheme, Rod has been supportive and motivating. The feedback Rod has provided me with at the meetings were always positive and encouraging to continue with the path I am on, allowing me to build up my CV to support a traineeship. I would like to thank Rod for his encouragement, advice and the time he has made.
I was encouraged by Rod and Stacy Edghill, who is also a mentor for the scheme, to attend Offshore Europe. At the event, Stacy was extremely helpful and took me around to network with different companies, which allowed me to ask questions relevant to a placement and traineeship. This opportunity allowed me to make connections over LinkedIn and provided email addresses so that I could send enquiries about placements.
The AYP scheme has allowed me to gain an insight into a legal career and I would recommend the Mentor Scheme for any student or professional. I will be attending the AYP Ball in March 2018 and I am looking forward to hearing other people’s experience with the AYP scheme.
I’ve been working with Stacy for a number of months now. She has a very hectic schedule but always makes herself available to meet. Stacy takes the time to understand my challenges and has given me a variety of tools and practical tasks to help me focus on making improvements. Stacy has a very hands on approach and supports in any way she can – she has gone out of her way to facilitate introductions to others and has identified and attended a number of industry networking events with me.
I entered the programme with a couple of specific areas where I felt I most needed development but Stacy has provided mentoring and guidance on a whole host of issues. Her experiences across different roles in different sectors has been great for me to tap into. Stacy has taken a real interest in my role and career and is an excellent sounding board.
Stacy’s positivity helps me focus on what I can do. Being on the mentor programme has given me the confidence to tackle challenges I previously put in the ‘too hard’ box.
I continue to see the benefits of mentoring support and it’s something I’d actively encourage others to get involved with. I’m more than happy to discuss my experiences of being on the mentoring scheme with this new to the programme or considering applying.
My name is David Garcia, I am 35 and originally from Spain and have been living in Aberdeen more over 4 years. I had heard about AYP but never thought it could be something for me, I thought it would be a scheme for recent graduates. However last year I found myself in the middle of a professional and personal crisis. I didn’t know if I was going in the right direction and what I could do to improve the situation. Therefore, I decided to find out more about AYP and give it a try.
It was surprising that is a pro-bono scheme where experienced people are keen to mentor others. Anyway, I had nothing to lose I thought.
Barry Mole was appointed my mentor and since the very beginning he has been a great support. He has made me realise how important it is to be in control of the situation, how to create the right environment in your work place and what to do to enjoy your job. He always tells me, “you have to be enjoy what you do”. Besides, as a foreigner you are sometimes unsure about how to do certain things. I have raised my concerns about it to Barry and he has helped clarify some things but also let me know when I am wrong.
To be honest with you, the first time I spoke with Barry I was a bit down. My wife was pregnant (she still is and due in a few weeks so I guess Aberdeen is going to be a part of me all my life regardless of what may come in the future), I was not happy with myself and complaining about many things. However, Barry told me you can change that, now it is your choice. A few weeks later, I decided to change my life, I left my job to revaluate things and take control of my life. Barry also told me something more important, don’t complain about the past, focus your efforts on the future and how to make it yours. It works!!
I still have to work on a lot of things, but I know I am in the right direction and have a great guide to help me during this professional but also personal development process. I hope I could give back some of this support to others in the future. I am extremely grateful to Barry and everyone involved in AYP.
I will be attending AYP Ball 2018 on Friday 2nd March to meet up with everyone who would like to have a good time and share experiences. See you there!
Now that I’m nearing towards the end of my Mentor Scheme 2017/18 I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Ross again for the time he’s taken to provide me with valuable career guidance and support. Ross and I have covered numerous topics including recruitment strategies, in-house recruitment, contract recruitment, presentation skills and more, each topic we’ve covered has proved to be hugely beneficial to me and I was able to learn from his own career experiences.
For the past 12 months I had also been on a development plan with my employer TEAM Energy Resources and I believe that the guidance I’ve received from Ross along with continued support working on my confidence had indeed contributed in my recent promotion as ‘Senior Recruitment Partner’ supporting Acteon’s operating companies.
I’m looking forward to attending this year’s AYP Ball again in March, meeting with other Mentees and Mentors from the AYP scheme and hearing how their own personal development plans have been a success for them.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have Ross as my mentor this year I’d encourage any professional who’s looking for career guidance to consider the AYP Mentor Scheme.
Since our initial meeting Duncan’s advice has helped transform my business from an ‘at home start up’ to a much more professional business entity. He’s dedicated time to helping me better formulate my business plan, and his knowledge of Aberdeen and the Social Enterprise industry has been invaluable.
Many things which were unknowns to me are now clear, and I feel I have a better hand on both business growth and direction, and who to turn to as new challenges arise.
It’s been a great opportunity and I’ve very grateful.
Baby Carrying Consultant.