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New mentoring scheme connects Economics students to professional economists

12 September 2017

A new professional mentoring scheme that supports Economics students by linking them up with professionals working as economists has been launched in the School of Economics, Finance and Management (EFM) at the University of Bristol.

The EFM Professional Mentoring Scheme benefitted around 70 second year undergraduate students during the last academic year, with plans to expand in the future.  Mentors were drawn from organisations that employ economists, ranging from the Institute of Fiscal Studies and the Office for National Statistics to smaller private sector organisations. 

The scheme forms part of a set of initiatives led by the Professional Liaison Network (PLN) team in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law to engage students with companies and organisations that are relevant to their academic subjects.  

The aim of the scheme is to ensure that students, regardless of their background and networks, can gain insights from a professional working in an area of interest. As well as the insight into relevant sectors this gives as students consider their futures after their degrees, the scheme also allows them to see their academic field engaged in a practical context in the wider world, giving them new perspectives from which to reflect on their studies.

Students met their mentors for the first time at an event held in the spring, hosted jointly by the School of Economics, Finance and Management and the Professional Liaison Network in the Wills Memorial Building. 

The event included mentors from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, the Office for National Statistics and HEFCE, among others. The event was followed by a series of further meetings between mentors and mentees.  Students were then invited to complete a reflective exercise to conclude the programme and plan for their future professional development.

Simon Edkins, who works in Pricing and Econometrics for Lloyds Banking Group, described how he worked with his mentees: "We designed an informal programme of coffee shop meetings followed up by a more structured workplace visit.

"The students had the opportunity to talk to some of our analyst colleagues and then interact with some of our senior specialists around the group and our support agencies about the way that economics is used in the bank."  

Simon told the PLN that he found the scheme very rewarding, adding: "It was a pleasure to meet and spend some time getting to know [my mentees]. Having the opportunity to share experiences with a great group of bright and motivated students in a way that I hope benefitted them was a real pleasure. 

"From competition and regulatory policy to marketing attribution with econometrics and data science, I certainly learned something. I hope they did too. We’re interested in seeing where the scheme can go next year."

Jasmine Tan, a second-year student of Economics and Finance, was mentored by Frances Wollmer, Principal at Argus Media, an independent media organisation which produces price assessments and analysis of international energy and other commodity markets.

Jasmine said of the mentoring scheme: "I have been provided with realistic expectations of the roles involved in the industry and this has helped align my expectations and understand the skill sets required for various roles.

"It has also taught me how to network in a personal manner while still keeping it professional; that networking is not about selling oneself but to express genuine interest and curiosity about the job. This will help me with future networking sessions and also building relationship with employers."

Further information

For further information on the Professional Liaison Network, please contact Dr John McWilliams, Professional Liaison Manager.

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