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My Mentoring Experience - Laura Xu

Laura Xu (Cultural and Creative Industries, 2022) is the Foreign Rights Manager for Watkins Media Limited. We spoke to Laura about her experience of being mentored by Patrick McCrae (History, 2009), CEO of international art agency Artiq.

An image of King's College graduate Chang Xu. She is wearing her graduation robe, and holding a toy version of Reggie, the King's college London mascot.

Why did you decide to seek the help of a mentor at King’s?

Before coming to King's to study my master’s degree, I worked in the publishing industry in China for a few years as the head of a small team. When I read about the mentoring programme in the student newsletter, I was very interested in it and felt that having a mentor would help me expand my network and improve my leadership skills, as I was keen to find a job in the UK after graduation.

 

How have you benefited from having Patrick as a mentor?

In our first meeting we developed some topics of interest, I learned how to build my network in the UK workplace, and how to manage my time as a department head. Patrick gave me very specific, practical advice based on these subjects, such as how to use LinkedIn to say hi to people working in my field. He also recommended the classic book 'Getting Your Things Done' by David Allen on time management and some task management apps. I used this advice in subsequent studies and my job search and found a job in the publishing industry as a manager this September.

 

What has been the highlight of your mentoring partnership?

Each time we met, Patrick was well prepared for the topic of the day. I could see his detailed notes and I was impressed by his devotion to the programme.

 

Why do you think having a mentor is important?

I think having a mentor is an invaluable experience for an overseas student looking for a job in the UK, especially when the mentor is a successful leader working in the field we are familiar with, or that we want to pursue. It helps us to quickly understand UK workplace culture and prepare us for the job search in advance. We can also get first-hand advice from our mentors to help us cope with the challenges we may face in our future work.

 

I think having a mentor is an invaluable experience for an overseas student looking for a job in the UK, especially when the mentor is a successful leader working in the field we are familiar with, or that we want to pursue.– Laura Xu

What’s the best piece of advice you received from Patrick? What impact has this had on you?

Use LinkedIn to expand your network! I rarely used LinkedIn when I was in China as we have other social platforms, but Patrick stressed to me the importance of LinkedIn for job hunting in the UK, so I spent some time updating my CV and following some of my peers, as well as companies that I was interested in on LinkedIn. Since then, I have learnt that it is important for overseas students looking for jobs in the UK to use job search platforms used by locals. Secondly, as an introvert, I found it difficult to say 'hello' to people I didn't know for fear of rejection, but I took Patrick's advice and kept pushing myself out of my comfort zone by trying to connect with my peers at companies I was interested in. I found their responses were always helpful. Although sometimes I was rejected or ignored - that's okay, because it's more important to try to break down the boundaries we set for ourselves.

 

What would you say to other students interested in mentoring?

Don't treat the project as a task you have to complete. Be an active participant, and make the most of your mentor's experience and knowledge. And keep in touch with your mentor! I was invited by Patrick to his company's event after the project was over, and I've been updating him about my work status as well.

 

 

King’s Connect is a networking platform that allows both students and alumni to connect to the wider King’s community and expand their professional network by building long-lasting relationships. Sign up today at kingsconnect.org.uk

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