Mentors for postgrads

rollsroyceDid you know that we have 400 mentors ready this Spring, all waiting to help someone – maybe you?

And did you know that 50 of them have PhDs, and are particularly keen to to help our current PhDs?

Our Manchester Gold mentoring programme is now recruiting for our Spring intake, and this time, we’re launching a brand new Doctoral programme.

NB. The Doctoral programme is aimed at students who are already doing a PhD, not those who want to apply for a PhD.

The closing date for our general programme is 1st February, but as we’ve only just compiled the list of mentors for our Doctoral programme, we’re extending the closing date for the Doctoral programme to 8th February. Update 24/1/13Both closing dates are now 8th February (but get a move on anyway).

What can you ask?
We’re always banging on about how important contacts are in your career, and some research we’ve been doing recently has reinforced that. However, by contacts, I don’t necessarily mean “knowing someone who can give you a job” (though that can be handy). I mean being able to talk to people about:

  • what they do in their job
  • what they like and don’t like about their job
  • how they decided on a particular career, or whether it just developed without any plan (quite a common experience)
  • their experience of looking for jobs – understanding how the job market really works is very valuable
  • where their career might go next
  • what helped and what didn’t help in getting where they are now and where they might want to go

You need to be able to think “how might that apply to me?”, even if you don’t have exactly the same background or want quite the same career. If you go in with an open mind and learn as much as you can about other people’s experience of careers, you’ve got more chance of spotting things which might help you, or of avoiding their mistakes. Of course, you might also get some good advice on how to improve your CV, brush up on your “how to tell your story” skills (ie the stuff you’ll need to be able to do in interviews) and you never know who they just might know … (but no promises).

Which programme can you apply for?
If you’re currently on a doctoral programme (ie you’re doing a PhD already, not a Masters or undergrad wanting to apply for a PhD), you can either apply for a PhD-qualified mentor, on our special Doctoral programme, or just apply for any of the 400 mentors on offer. If you’re a Masters postgrad or undergrad, you can apply for any of the 400 mentors on the list. However, where a mentor has a PhD, they’re likely to be matched with one of our current PhDs.

There are also other specialist strands, where mentors have shown an interest in mentoring students who identify themselves in one of the following categories:

  • Disabled students
  • Black and minority ethnic students
  • LGBT students
  • International students planning to return home (to China, India, Malaysia or Nigeria)

If you would like to be considered for one of these specialist strands, just indicate this on your application. Being realistic, you may need to consider which is most helpful to you at this stage – finding a mentor interested in supporting you in one of the categories above, or finding a mentor in a particular type of job or from a particular degree background. You’re unlikely to find one person who can satisfy all three of those preferences!

Our mentors
What kinds of jobs do our mentors do? Well, there are the more obvious ones:

  • PhDs – chemists who are now R&D Managers in the chemical industry, politics PhDs who are now lecturers, electrical engineers who work for Rolls Royce, PhDs in public administration now working for the World Bank
  • Non-PhDs – doctors working for the NHS, management graduates working as consultants, drama graduates working for the BBC, mathematicians working in audit

There are also the less expected ones:

  • PhDs – astronomers working in R&D for a steel company, theoretical physicists heading up Business Development for a charity (or working for an investment bank)
  • Non-PhDs – town and country planner working in offender management, historians and chemists working in finance, English and American studies graduate who’s a physiotherapist, a geographer who’s a broadcast journalist, a politics graduate who’s a transport planner

Look, just have a browse and see if there’s anything which grabs your attention. A mentor doesn’t have to be in your ideal job to be of real value to you, so think broadly.

What to do next
Have a look at the details on our Manchester Gold website. Then, login to CareersLink, and under My Account, go into My Profile (click on the image below for a clearer picture).


Edit your profile, and go to the bottom of the page, where you can enter details of which mentoring programme you want to apply for, and give us your reasons. Where there are more applicants than mentors, these reasons are how you will be selected, along with the other details we ask you to complete in the rest of your CareersLink profile.


They’re queuing up to help you
I was a bit taken aback when I saw how many mentors we have  – and that’s on top of almost 400 mentors who were matched in our Autumn programme and over 600 people who’ve signed up to answer the odd email query with our Online Q&A service.

If ever you needed proof that people like helping others in their careers, here it is. Question is, are you going to take up their offer of support?

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