Successfully completing a university degree is a major achievement. But when a graduate receives tailored support to help recognise their own personal strengths and forge ahead with a successful, professional career, the sky is the limit.
Thanks to the University of Melbourne’s breadth of mentoring programs, current and past students can access thousands of Melbourne alumni to seek career advice, share knowledge and gain precious industry insights from leaders in countless fields.
But it’s a two-way street. As well as building knowledge and confidence for mentees, the programs give mentors a chance to make a real difference by sharing their wisdom and expertise, while at the same time expanding their own professional networks.
And for many alumni like Deborah Chew and Chester Foley, the experience can be transformative. Both have overcome difficulties and made successful career choices thanks to the crucial support and guidance they received from their Ask Alumni mentors.
Deborah Chew, mentee
Deborah’s experience of mentoring was literally life-changing. She signed up for the Ask Alumni program in 2018, before graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (Politics and International Studies). After working a number of internships in politics and public policy, Deborah landed a well-paid role with a prestigious management consultancy.
But something wasn’t right. She lacked passion for the new job. “[The Ask Alumni program] helped me realise that there are so many paths my career could take,” reflects Deborah. “University is the starting point, and one needn’t be afraid of switching paths or changing careers until you find something that clicks.”
Since receiving support through Ask Alumni, Deborah has successfully switched paths to allied health, recently beginning a Master of Nursing Science at the University of Melbourne. She is extremely grateful for the clarity and support the program has given her and heartily recommends the experience to other alumni. “You gain confidence from reaching out, knowledge from people in industry, and broaden your post-uni perspectives.”
The biggest thing it provided me was exposure. Exposure to different careers, different priorities.
I spoke to people in government, defence, and law ranging from a fresh graduate to someone with 20 years' experience and all of their experiences provided me with the opportunity to broaden my perspectives.
— Deborah Chew, Ask Alumni program mentee
Chester Foley, mentee
On the eve of graduating from a Master of Environment, Chester was in a troubled place. At the tail-end of a three- month, unpaid interstate traineeship that wasn’t going well he realised he would have to pivot his career goals. It was a highly uncertain time.
But he drew on advice he had received from Ask Alumni mentors. “The guidance I received through the program helped me realise what sort of alternative opportunities existed, and how to go about finding and pursuing them,” says Chester, looking back on the opportunity.
“[My mentors] gave me advice on available resources for information and industry leads, other networking opportunities, career paths to explore – all really good guidance for someone who has studied a lot, but with very little post-graduate experience.”
With his confidence buoyed, Chester won a role as project officer with the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and then joined the Environmental Protection Authority, where he quickly earned a promotion to a senior role.
I appreciate the help I received from my mentor and would like to thank them for their time and generosity. Mentoring is something I would like to do in the future and I hope I could help someone in the way I was.
— Chester Foley, Ask Alumni program mentee
If someone you know is a student or graduate of the University of Melbourne and might benefit from learning more about our mentoring programs or Ask Alumni, pass this article on and tell them to visit mentoring.unimelb.edu.au.
View more stories of impact on our website.