Alex

Alex Kersey (MSc Petroleum, Energy Economics & Finance) took part in the Career Mentoring Programme in 2014/2015. Alex was matched with Aberdeen graduate Michail Tzouvelekis, Regional Segment Manager, Oil & Gas at Dräger and here’s their story...

 

Career Mentoring Programme Participant Alex KerseyAlex...

“From September 2015, I will be an Energy Trader. It's all I've been chasing for 2 years now. With a background in Geology it wasn't the most straightforward way to persuade employers I was the right candidate for them but after a lot of outside work and pursuit of my Masters here in Aberdeen I started having reasonable success in obtaining interviews and interest from trading houses.

However, something still wasn't clicking as I wasn't getting any further than the interview stage. Michail observed this and the work I did with him primarily involved taking apart my interview answers and drafting together a bank of questions I knew would cover 90% or so of anything I would be asked that allowed me to present myself to employers the way I wanted to be. This in itself was invaluable and was essentially the final piece of the puzzle. Although a simple feat actually having someone sit down with you for three hours and critique every sentence of every answer is not a luxury many people have or are willing to do."

 

Career Mentoring Programme Mentor Michail TzouvelekisMichail Tzouvelekis….

“When I was starting out in my career, there was no mentoring programme. Nevertheless, I was fortunate enough to work alongside some very experienced leaders, who gave me their time and guidance without expecting anything in return. By now, I know the oil & gas industry (and the workplace in general) quite well, and I am simply keen to pay it forward and help the next generation of professionals in their initial steps.

For any student who is willing to actively engage with it, and who can accept constructive criticism, this programme is a unique opportunity to learn about their chosen field from an insider, to understand what employers are looking for in a recruit, and to receive career coaching or interview advice.

I was lucky to be paired up with two exceptional mentees: In 2013-14 my mentee was Adam Booth (MSc Oil & Gas Enterprise Management) and in 2014-15 it was Alex Kersey (MSc Petroleum, Energy Economics & Finance). Both Adam and Alex spent many hours with me, asking questions, taking notes, opening up about themselves, and respectfully listening to what I had to say, over many cups of coffee and even a couple of beers.

As I write this, I am extremely happy for both of them and honestly bursting with pride; because, by the end of our mentoring programme, they had both successfully graduated from their respective courses and secured the kind of job that they've always wanted, and indeed with very well-known and market leading international employers.

It's hard to put into words how fulfilled the achievements of Adam and Alex make me feel, in exchange for the small contribution that maybe I made to launching their successful careers. I hope that they are happy in their jobs and enjoy their work as much as I do, and that, a few years from now, it is them that are mentoring the next round of University of Aberdeen graduates."

 

 

Lukas
 Lukas

Lukas, General Stream mentor
MA(Hons) Economics and Politics (2006)
Vice President Debt Sales, Deutsche Bank AG

Why did you apply to the Programme?

The Career Mentoring Programme is a great way of staying in touch with the University and the next generation of graduates. I can offer a thorough understanding of working within an international universal bank.

Is there one part of your mentorship(s) that really stands out? The openness and dedication of all my mentees has made mentoring a fun experience for me.
What advice would you give to other graduates who are thinking about applying to become a mentor? There is only upside in mentoring! You’ll be surprised how much students can benefit – even if you are a recent graduate. 
Andrew
 Andrew

Andrew, Engineering Stream mentor
BEng Civil Structural Engineering (1999)
Managing Director, Augmentias Maritime & Offshore Engineering

Why did you apply to the Programme?

I have experienced first-hand the difficulty in securing suitable employment from leaving university and also want to see experience transferred to the newer generations of engineers.

Is there one part of your mentorship(s) that really stands out? I really enjoy seeing the change from the initial meeting to the last meeting and seeing the focus, confidence and determination within the student.
What advice would you give to other graduates who are thinking about applying to become a mentor? I had the misfortune recently of looking at my applications for jobs that I sent out in 1999 when I graduated and wish I had the opportunity to sit with experienced people who can and want to help students into gainful employment in the field of their choice. 
Angeli
 Angeli

Angeli, General Stream mentor
BSc Physiology (1981)
Freelance Science Writer

Why did you apply to the Programme?

To put something back, and hopefully to help and encourage students.

Is there one part of your mentorship(s) that really stands out? I think our meeting was the best way to start out – as we were able to establish a rapport.
What advice would you give to other graduates who are thinking about applying to become a mentor? Go ahead and sign up – it’s fun and a small way you can give something back to your university. Who knows you might even learn something too.
Ewan
 Ewan

Ewan, Biosciences Research Stream mentor
BSc(Hons) Zoology (1987)
Science Development Coordinator, Cefas (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science)

Why did you apply to the Programme?

I currently supervise 5 PhD students and mentor several junior members of Cefas staff (mainly in paper writing and time management skills). I have a genuine interest in helping others develop their scientific careers to the best of their abilities, and to provide assistance in areas where I could myself, with hindsight, have benefited with input from others. I’m also in the happy position to be able to recognise that I have skills and wisdom that are worth imparting! I have an ongoing affinity to the University of Aberdeen which provided me with a very solid foundation, and joining the mentoring programme felt like the most appropriate means of “giving back”.

Is there one part of your mentorship(s) that really stands out? I was struck that as well as having a wealth of relevant life-experience on tap, often what my mentee wanted most help and reassurance with were the more mundane aspects of getting a foot in the door, e.g. how to follow-up initial approaches to researchers so as to impress, but without being intrusive or irritating!
What advice would you give to other graduates who are thinking about applying to become a mentor? I would encourage any graduate to apply to this scheme – Given that I was never a recipient of formal mentorship myself, without participating as a mentor in the UoA scheme, I don’t think I would have appreciated just how much practical and relevant advice I would be able to offer graduates at the very early stages of their careers – although I’m sure that more often than not, I probably wouldn’t have taken the advice offered, I can appreciate that it would have been good to have had the opportunity! 
Gloria
 

Gloria, Engineering Stream mentor
Safety Engineering and Risk Management (2009)
Senior Safety/Verification Engineer, American Bureau of Shipping

Why did you apply to the Programme?

I applied to the Programme to share my experiences after graduation and to offer ideas on what industries are looking for.

Is there one part of your mentorship(s) that really stands out? Offering recruitment and interview tips.
What advice would you give to other graduates who are thinking about applying to become a mentor? It is worth applying, because as you offer your own experiences and knowledge, you will then find out what you have achieved and this will propel you to take your career further. I am now applying for full registration with the Engineering Council of the UK as a chartered engineer (CEng). I wouldn't have thought about CEng if not for this Mentoring Programme.
Rachel
 Rachel

Rachel, General Stream mentor
LLB (Hons) with European Legal Studies (2011)
Audit Assistant Manager, KPMG

Why did you apply to the Programme?

I wanted to help students who were looking at their post university careers.  At university I was never sure what I wanted to do so similar guidance would have been invaluable to me.

Is there one part of your mentorship(s) that really stands out? Getting the chance to meet students from different backgrounds and understand their situations and help them understand more about my job.
What advice would you give to other graduates who are thinking about applying to become a mentor? The Career mentoring programme is a great opportunity to help students who were once in a similar position to myself to really properly evaluate their choices. Having all been in the same situation we all know what it is that helped us in our decisions and can give advice based on experience. To be able to shed some light on the recruitment and employment process is a huge help to the students. At first I was worried I would not have much to tell, but the more you think about it the more I realised what I had to share. Sometimes something as simple as the introductory chat opened up all sorts of avenues of possibility to help my mentee, and we could base activities on that, on occasion it was just a chat that was required that day, to really understand what my day to day job is like, and hear honest opinions from someone who is not a recruiter. Do not underestimate the knowledge and understanding you can impart.
Richard
 Richard

Richard, Engineering Stream mentor
MEng Mechanical Engineering (2010)
Senior Mechanical Engineer, TAQA Bratani Ltd

Why did you apply to the Programme?

It’s a great opportunity to give something back to both the university and the students that attend. It’s a rewarding process that gives opportunities for self-development from a mentors perspective as well as developing the mentee.

Is there one part of your mentorship(s) that really stands out? I think the most satisfying part so far has been speaking to my mentee after his successful interviews and finding out that some of our mock interview had been useful. This proves the value and benefits of the programme.
What advice would you give to other graduates who are thinking about applying to become a mentor?

This is a fantastic opportunity to give something back to the University and its students, as well as developing the next crop of engineers. I wasn’t sure if I had enough experience to mentor someone, but I quickly realised that I was able to share my job hunting experience and industry knowledge with someone at the start of that journey. It’s a rewarding programme that offers development to both the mentee and you as a mentor.

June
 June

June, General Stream mentor
MSc Project Management (1999)
Self-employed Contractor

Why did you apply to the Programme?

Why: To give something back.
Gain: meet interesting people.
Offer: A heads up on things I wish I’d known sooner.

Is there one part of your mentorship(s) that really stands out? With each of my students, that second meeting when I had previously asked them to think what they might do with their degree. Each one came up with a reasonable list – I typically had one as long as my arm. Their realisation that one can take a degree and use the knowledge and experience gained in so very many ways is the start of moving from student-hood to career-hood.
What advice would you give to other graduates who are thinking about applying to become a mentor? I have met some wonderful and interesting people, who have brought a great deal of joy into my life. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world!