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Standing out: Mentoring and placements


UEL provides a range of opportunities for students to develop their skills prior to graduating. In this video employers, students and graduates detail the importance of building up your experience and the opportunities available to you at UEL.

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  • SW - Sue Warren, HR Business Partner, BT
  • GK - Gurjit Kahlon, Graduate, University of East London
  • MQ - Mohammad Quereshi, Graduate, University of East London
  • WC - Web Chinduta, Student, University of East London
  • MS - Manar Sabri, Graduate, University of East London
  • OO - Oluwanike Odeniyi, Graduate, University of East London

SW – Mentoring is about a more senior person helping a more junior person and guiding them into a company or a relationship. BT has been working with UEL for the last 6 months so I’ve been mentoring a final year student. What I’ve seen is her grow in confidence and really developing an insight into the corporate world and being able to be more sure about herself and what she wants to do. So, I think it’s been a really useful experience. We’ve talked about mock interviews, we’ve done a mock assessment centre and given her an insight into some things that she’d never done before. I really hope that that will help her in her search for a job. Not just now but also in the future in terms of what employers are looking for and, you know, I hope I’ve given her a really clear insight into that particular world.

GK - During the beginning of the summer holidays for my first year at UEL, I received an email from the Employability team about some summer vacation placements that were available and one of them was for an accounting position at Tate and Lyle. It provided me .. team working skills was one of the key skills. Also, communication skills because you find that when you’re in a place of work, it’s not just a matter of talking to someone face-to-face while you’re in the office. You have to talk on the phone, you have to write letters and emails. Emails are a big thing out there in the world of work. It’s all done through email. And you find that the time I spent there, I actually found that I was communicating in more methods that I would have done. Initially at uni, when you’re here, it’s more face-to-face or just on the mobile phone to your friends. But you pick up the skills where you think, ‘Right, these are skills that are gonna be used later on in life’. I also think that, having spent my time at Tate and Lyle, it was just the understanding of the place of work. I got a feel for the environment of how it would be, once I started work full-time.

MQ - After being on a mentoring scheme, it was a time to actually plug in what I’ve learned from the scheme. One of their advice was if you go for a voluntary job, for example, you should use the intranet and try to extend your networking skills. If you’re on their system, use their email address to look for internal vacancies. Ask people to meet up, to have meetings with them, discuss the roles a little bit more in depth. If and when you put in your CV they can actually put a face to the CV that they have.

As a result of this, I’ve been able to secure my first interview at a vacancy that I really want to go for.

WC – I started the Finance Investment Society in my second year. I think that one thing that I realised from going to a lot of events is that other students from other universities do a lot of extracurricular activities. So that was one of my motivations and I wanted also to develop myself. Not only develop myself but also have the opportunity to try and actually develop other students. I’ve always thought that we’re very close to Canary Wharf and we don’t probably use that opportunity enough. So, in the Finance Investment Society, as students, what we try to do is discuss finance issues and also try and bring in employers from outside to discuss finance issues and also improve the employability of students.

MS – I’ve taken part in a mentoring scheme that was offered by UEL Employability team. I benefited from it greatly. The first thing that I’ve got is communication skills. That’s because I’ve been a mother for three years and I’ve been in the family and academic environment only and I needed to step into the professional setting. The mentoring scheme has helped me do that. What I gained from it is being able to communicate professionally, written and verbally. The second thing I’ve learned from it is getting feedback on how I’m perceived by professional people and when I apply for interviews, how I would come across. The most important thing also is being able to network and form relationships with professional people that would help me find work in the future.

As a result of taking part in the mentoring scheme, I feel today more confident to apply for more senior roles rather than just junior roles. As before, I didn’t have any experience in what to expect in assessment centres and interviews. So the mentoring scheme has given me the opportunity to practice that and improve my skills and my appearance and how I come across to other professionals. So today I feel this is a great benefit from the mentoring scheme.

MQ - The key skills that I picked up from this internship is .. communication skill being the most important one. It’s the way you speak to people at different levels. Being able to network with people. Being able to discuss the issues with your colleagues and come to a decision in itself. This is some of the qualities that I picked up. Without this internship, I wouldn’t be able to.

OO - At the moment, I am involved in volunteering with the Citizens Advice Bureau in Redbridge and I thought that would be a good way of getting more experience in the legal area. It’s been a very good decision as well because it’s helped me to meet more people and then I’ve been trained to do some things in Employment Law and other areas of law. Apart from the satisfaction of helping people, it’s been a very enlightening experience.

WC - Towards the end of my first year, I saw an opportunity by Pearson. It was the first time they’d actually done it in this country. It was called the Pearson Student Advisory Board. Where a team of 8 students were chosen countrywide and I did various projects. One of the projects that I did was doing business research. I just researched various things to do with spend habits of students. With that information, I then collated that information and then we would discuss it as a board and then we would make presentations to the senior executives at Pearson. I think that it was very exciting because you would see your research then feeding into business decisions and some of the things they actually implemented. So it was very, very exciting.

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