Quinn is studying Business and Management at the University of Exeter and is in his second year of being an upReach Associate. Last year he became Marketing Manager of the Exeter upReach Society and through upReach gained a place on the Deloitte Professional Experience week, before recently securing a marketing placement with GlaxoSmithKline.
Quinn was matched with Rhodri Morgan last year in the upReach Mentor scheme and has benefitted hugely from his support. Here he gives insight into his experience.
What have been the highlights of being an upReach Associate for you so far?
The opportunities I have received through upReach have been endless. One of the highlights has been the support and advice surrounding my CV. When I first became an Associate, I didn’t have a formal CV. But with help from my Programme Coordinator Laura I have managed to put together a CV that I am confident employees will find impressive and stand me in good stead going forward.
Another highlight of being an upReach Associate has been the Deloitte Professional Experience week. I applied through upReach and then had to take a Deloitte online test, all of which provided me with great experience of such processes. During the insight week, the 20 or so upReach Associates had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the professional services industry as well as helpful interview advice and team building skills. During down times in the week it was also interesting to speak to likeminded Associates from across the country. A third highlight would have to be gaining a mentor, this has allowed me to speak honestly to someone who has experience in the Marketing sector and is keen to see you succeed.
What compelled you to sign up for the upReach mentoring programme?
I signed up initially as I wasn’t sure about the industry I wanted to start a career in and with my degree’s placement year approaching I thought having a mentor could help with making that decision.
Can you explain a little bit about the mentoring programme; your mentor and how it works for you both?
The mentoring programme at upReach puts professionals and Associates together who are in or interested in a similar industry, in the hope that they will be able to discuss what it is like and hopefully both benefit from the experience.
Rhodri, my mentor, works for Unilever in marketing at Leatherhead. As Unilever was a company I was very interested in and marketing was the industry I saw most appealing, I was very lucky with the mentor I was allocated. At first we exchanged emails and then decided upon doing an hour long monthly call where we would discuss marketing related topics in the news as well as what it is like working in the industry. As it came to applying for roles, Rhodri gave me advice on applications as well as guidance on some good companies to work for.
What have been the best aspects of having an upReach mentor?
The best aspect of having an upReach mentor is being able to talk and easily email someone who has extensive knowledge surrounding the industry you are looking to enter. As well as this my mentor and I arranged to meet face to face in the Unilever Offices for a day. Here I was amazed by the facilities but also the generosity of Rhodri in taking the time out of his working day to meet me and arrange for me to speak to a whole host of employees in the marketing sector. All of which provided me with unrivalled exposure to the company and the industry.
What would you recommend to upReach Associates who are thinking about applying for an upReach mentor?
I would say definitely apply, even if you’re not sure about what industry you want to go into. You can decide with your mentor how often you will speak and by what means. Ultimately from an Associate’s perspective you get to ask all the questions that are on your mind surrounding the sector and whether this area could be the one for you. By building a relationship with your mentor you can ask questions not strictly about the industry they work in. For example, for my GSK assessment day I asked about the appropriateness of my questionable Movember moustache, a dilemma I had never faced before! So, you can see that you benefit in many ways, not solely work related.
You’ve secured a year in industry placement. Which elements of upReach and your mentor’s support helped you prepare for this?
UpReach and the mentor scheme were very helpful in the process of securing a year in industry. The online test practice questions on the my.upReach website were very helpful in the earlier stages of the application. The answers and how to get to them were very helpful as although there are lots of resources on the internet, not all have explanations and the ones that do only have a few free samples.
In terms of the Assessment day itself I benefitted massively from a practice interview with my Programme Coordinator Laura and a call about how to go about everything on the day with my mentor Rhodri. In the practice interview Laura asked me questions based on the company itself, the role I was applying for and marketing-specific competency questions which meant when it came to the interview on the day I was more relaxed. Paired with the Insight Days and Skills Workshops I was in a great position to excel on the day and get the role.
For more information on becoming an upReach Mentor, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
With thanks to Quinn Leatherbarrow-Stokes for sharing his experiences.