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Tips from the Pro - a guest post by Kimberley Nyamhondera

Reflections on the first Meet a Mentor session

It is always this time of year that I begin to feel a knot in the pit of my stomach. Every year since way back when, this time of year can be attributed to endings and changes. Secondary school is over and I'm preparing for Sixth Form, Year 12 becomes Year 13 and Year 13 is suddenly my second year at University.

This year I'm thinking about, mentally preparing for and preoccupying myself with thoughts of my third and final year at University. I've been considering intensified workloads, saying goodbye to my very limited social life and wondering how I can best equip myself for life (for the first time) outside of education and after University. These thoughts help me to procrastinate but the more I air them out inside my head and they float round and round, repeating themselves, the more I have to give weight to them.

The Meet a Mentor programme is such a fantastic programme for people looking to find employment in the creative industries. It hasn't come at the right time for me as someone who is between cities, assessments and career ambitions but there are elements of each session that are beneficial for me.

During the first session on Wednesday 16th April, the talk at the end of the evening by DJ Nihal, a TV and radio presenter on the BBC Asian Network, was particularly inspiring. DJ Nihal began his talk with anecdotes about the places he'd visited and the people he had met, which felt risqué in terms of national security (think meetings with spies in certain countries).

However, it was his advice that left a lasting impression on me.

Be as sure and confident about your skills as everyone else is about theirs - in an industry that engages with the whole 'who you know not what you know' school of thought, it was refreshing to be reminded that what I know is still important. It's also reassuring to know that even though there is a lot of competition from people of various different backgrounds, there is a place among them for me.

Do someone else a favour first - this piece of advice was key for me and it was further consolidated as a vital piece of information to have in my mind by the nods of agreement from the mentors in the room. It's obviously something worth knowing! Not only did it make it all the more real that soon enough, now and onwards, I'd be seriously using this advice but I also found this so important because when you begin too navigate an industry and area of employment, no one tells you what to do when you've made a networking connection. They're in a unique position of not quite friend but not exactly a colleague so it's useful to know how to act when you make a new contact.

    Work hard - think about the job you want, how others do it and how you can do it better - I know that it's not enough just to say, I want to work in this area. Numerous careers talks over the years have drilled into me the importance of having a passion that you can turn into a career but it wasn't until Nihal said this and reminded us that we needed to be working constantly. We needed to know the roles of the key players in our areas, where they succeed and where we think that they fall short that I really got it. Even if you have the skills and the networking knowhow, you can still fall short if you don't know the trends and changes in your chosen area because just another area where we could fall short when others soar above and beyond your capabilities.

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