Careers and Mentoring case studies
Find out more about the mentoring experiences of some of our alumni and students using .
Mohan Yogendran (1982), mentor
When 777ӰԺ started its new alumni scheme on its new platform, I signed up immediately – and that was all pretty straightforward and intuitive. What surprised me was how quickly I had someone contact me to be a mentor. Amatey is also an alumni but has less years on this planet than me, and he reached out through the platform to ask if I could play a mentoring role.
What probably made this happen swiftly, aside from Amatey’s proactive approach to life in general, is that what I had written as part of registering contained the keywords that led Amatey to me. I have a background in HR, professional services, and consulting – and that’s the space Amatey is in and wants to develop further.
We swapped messages and arranged an introductory hour-long video call where I got to understand Amatey’s personal, educational, and professional background, and I of course shared mine too. We arranged to meet up in person in London near his office in the phase when people were just beginning to return to some office working (after restrictions in response to the pandemic). We spoke in much more detail about his work and the projects he was on, and we came to appreciate a number of other areas of synergy and common interest not least in our respective work in the diversity and inclusion field.
During the course of this discussion, somehow a number of snacks and a bottle of wine got consumed! Amatey has already messaged me on what he wants to cover when we next meet, and aside from longer term career advice, we will also do some on-the-spot problem-solving around existing work scenarios. That keeps me on my toes. Amatey would probably agree that it’s still early days in our mentoring relationship, but I must say I am enjoying this. And given his experience so far, which includes leadership roles in the student union organisations of 777ӰԺ, Cambridge University and nationally, I confess I am learning too. Like a lot of great mentoring arrangements, the learning goes both ways. What a great unintended consequence.
People will approach mentoring with different expectations and levels of engagement. Ours seems to be practical, informal, and wide-ranging, yet with some structure and focus too. That suits us. I commend other alumni to get involved, fill out your profiles clearly, and if you get matched up with a mentor, enjoy it!
Amatey Doku (2013), mentee
I was included in the first batch of Jesus alumni to join the Jesus Connect platform and was really pleased to see the platform launch. With a different hat, I’m the co-chair of the University of Cambridge Black Alumni Network (CBAN), so had been keeping my eye out for new ways to connect alumni; Jesus Connect piqued my interest immediately.
I’m currently a consultant working across higher education and health and was previously an elected officer at the National Union of Students. This isn’t a typical graduate career journey and I had been looking for a mentor to support me to leverage this background and navigate through my career.
I typed in “management consulting” and Mohan’s profile came up quite quickly. The first thing that struck me was how many things we had in common. Other than of course the College connection, we’re both keyboard players in bands, have a strong interest in race equity, both have consulting experience (although I don’t have as much as him!) and we both have an interest in West Africa; Mohan from his career and professional relationships and me from my own family background. It seemed like a good fit on paper and I didn’t hesitate to get in touch.
We had an initial introductory Zoom conversation to get to know each other and we both agreed that this mentoring relationship worked for both of us. Since then we’ve met a couple of times in London and I find our meetings hugely helpful; it was exactly what I was looking for. Mohan has a wealth of experience from his own career and, through his personal and professional networks, great insight into the experiences of others across a wide range of industries and sectors. I’ve got a lot to learn from him but it’s certainly not a one-way relationship – he is as interested in my background and experiences as I am in his and we are able to learn from each other.
My advice to mentees is to try and find someone where there is both personal and professional common ground. Our conversations don’t just cover work and careers, but our lives outside that and that connection is very important. Mentees should also take time to prepare for the mentoring discussions; flagging with your mentor beforehand what areas you are keen to discuss or test with your mentor so that they too are prepared for the conversation. It’s still early days in our mentor-mentee relationship but I’m really pleased that the platform was set up and I have no doubt that we’ll get a lot out of it.
Deborah Omolegan-Obe (2022), mentee
When I signed up to Jesus Connect I was unsure of what I wanted to do in the future and wanted some help deciding where to place my priorities during my undergraduate degree. I knew that a law degree opened up many career pathways, but I struggled with deciding which path was right for me.
Jesus Connect enabled me to meet with some alumni who had gone down different career paths like consulting and working internationally for organisations like the UN. I was paired with a mentor who helped me discuss career options and pointed me towards different programmes I could look at to give me a taste of what working in a specific industry was like. With my mentor's guidance I secured an internship with the Civil Service and was also encouraged to become a 777ӰԺ Ambassador to develop my interest in outreach. From connecting me with field-specialists to providing quality mentorship, Jesus Connect has encouraged me to make the most of my University experience and become more ambitious when it comes to career choices. I know I am not limited in any way; my future is mine for the moulding!
Jacqueline Rowe (2016) Mentor
Still in the early stages of my career, I may not have as many years to draw upon to offer to undergraduates as my more distinguished peer mentors…! However, I do think it’s really important that young graduates and young professionals share our insights and learnings with those just a few years behind; we have a unique perspective to offer, and our earlycareer experiences and the opportunities we’ve benefited from will often be more similar or more relevant for current students than those who entered the workforce a longer time ago.
Through meeting with current Jesuans to discuss their aspirations and goals, I’ve also been able to reflect on my own journey and progress and think critically about what my own next steps might be. It’s been rewarding to see the little that I have learned benefitting someone else and turning into concrete steps along their path.
What are your top tips for those searching for a mentor?
Think about what sort of mentorship support you’d like. Do you want a one-off call to chat through someone’s relevant experience? Do you want to be introduced to new people, ideas or networks? Do you want – and have time for – a longer term career coaching arrangement? I really appreciated one of my mentees, Harman, being very clear about what he hoped to gain and what he wanted me to provide – we settled on a virtual call focusing on some specific questions that he felt would be helpful.
Think not only about the experiences or titles or a prospective mentor, but also about who they are as a person. What I loved about Deborah’s mentorship request was that she specified certain character traits that she felt were important to her in a mentorship relationship – she was very intentional about the sort of person she wanted to work with and that helped me understand what she was looking for and what was important to her.
Never be afraid to ask questions – and in fact, always think of some questions in advance that you’d like to talk about. Could you ask your mentor what they found most challenging about a role or situation? Where they learned the most? Whether there were pivotal decision points in their career that they look back to? How they dealt with challenging colleagues or managers? As a mentor, it’s really helpful for the mentee to direct the conversation as much as possible with questions they want to know the answers to.
Jacob Powell (2019), mentee
Tell us a bit about your experience of using Jesus Connect?
I created my profile on Jesus Connect and ensured it was as detailed as possible. As I am interested in public sector jobs, I searched for alumni who had worked in the Civil Service. Upon finding some alumni who matched this criteria, I sent a message to ‘connect’ with them. I explained who I was alongside my motivations and aspirations. Both alumni got in touch with me very quickly and we soon arranged a time to speak. These meetings were great for understanding more about the public sector and the Jesus Connect platform continues to help me immensely with my future career.
Give us your top two tips for establishing a successful mentoring relationship
- Be yourself. It is easier for your mentor to know how they can help if you act like usual - they will be able to see your strengths and weaknesses!
- Take some time to prepare before you speak with your mentor - it is hard if you have nothing to talk about when you are speaking with your mentor, so make sure you prepare plenty of different subjects to discuss.
How has working with a mentor helped you?
- They have helped by answering questions about the industry I am interested in. They have also kindly offered to help with CV and cover letter preparation, as well as admissions test content and interview technique.
Do you have any tips for students meeting their mentor for the first meeting via video call?
- Ensure you have a good wifi connection - there is nothing worse than dodgy wifi making a video call unbearable for the mentor as they struggle to hear you speak.
- Prepare lots of questions in advance - this saves you thinking on your feet if you get nervous and will save you from any potentially awkward silences.