From Exams Impacted by the Pandemic to Being Published by the Royal United Services Institute

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ava- DREAM work experience. “It was inspiring to gain advice from someone so successful who had come from a similar background to me."
How Mentoring and Work Experience Opportunities Transformed Ava’s Outlook for the Future.

Ava first heard about Urban Synergy back in 2017 at a Role Model seminar. Fast forward 3 years and Ava joined our e-mentoring programme during the pandemic. Like many, Ava had concerns about what her future would look like following the impact the pandemic had on her education.

Despite this, Ava went on to complete our DREAM work experience programme with London Stock Exchange Group, and an internship with UK Power Networks. Ava even got a paper about Green Crime that she wrote published by the Royal United Services Institute! Because of her hard work and inspiration to others, Ava won Star Mentee in 2021.

Ava recently completed an internship with the MOBO Awards ahead of attending University College London in September. Ava sat down with us recently to share her story

How did you hear about Urban Synergy, and why did you decide to join?

"I had fears over my future job prospects, and how online teaching would affect my education. The programme seemed like an excellent opportunity for me to improve my skill set."

What was the best part of the mentoring programme?

Definitely the relationship I built with my mentor. We have similar backgrounds, so it was inspiring to gain advice from someone so successful.

The biggest skill I developed was balancing multiple responsibilities. I had to maintain consistent communication with my mentor whilst being flexible with my schedule. Learning how to write and structure my CV was incredibly valuable. It has given me confidence when applying for internship roles."

Tell us about your experience on the DREAM programme with the London Stock Exchange Group.

It was a very enlightening experience! I was quite intimidated. But, during the internship, I spoke with the entire risk department through online meetings. I became inspired by their different career trajectories.

Che Sidanius, my mentor at the time, was incredibly supportive. He set me a task to research and write a paper about Green Crime which I engaged with. At the end of the internship, my paper was published by the Royal United Services Institute! This was a huge highlight for me.

The biggest challenge I faced during this experience was my final presentation. I had to complete it under time constraints which was stressful. But doing so improved my resilience and taught me how to work under pressure. I felt more accomplished and capable at the end of the programme compared to when I started."

You also completed an internship with UK Power Networks, can you tell us more about that?

Working in an office with other interns for the first time was exciting. We were able to meet up, share our opinions about the company culture, and talk about our individual challenges.

I love research, so when tasked with researching energy transition in the UK, I was delighted. It was a challenge to structure my own investigation and work independently on a large project. But the electrical design team were always there to give me advice and steer me in the right direction."

What made you decide to become a part of the Urban Synergy youth council? How are you finding your role so far?

"The charity has helped me so much professionally and personally, and I wanted to continue supporting them.

Urban Synergy’s mission to build an equitable future is important to me. Especially as someone who attended school in the Lewisham borough. Joining the Youth Council was the perfect opportunity to share ideas and support the charity's further growth.

Currently, the co-chair and I are preparing an agenda for the first council meeting. It’s gratifying to know that the ideas we discuss will be turned into a plan of action for us to execute over the year."

So, what are you up to at the moment?

“I’m currently doing a 2 month summer internship at LSEG’s Canary Wharf office, and being able to work in person has been an insightful experience so far. It feels great to meet so many of the people I spoke to during my first internship, and being exposed to a new department is definitely broadening my scope of the company.”

Do you have any advice for future mentees?

"Be inquisitive and eager - no question is out of bounds!

This is a great opportunity to improve both your interpersonal and practical skills. If you’re unsure about your career path, don’t worry. This will unfold the more you branch out and explore your options.

There are alternative pathways into work! So if university isn’t for you, there are many other routes to consider, such as degree apprenticeships."

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