Graduates stepping into the world of work have a tough path ahead of them. Employers are grappling with hybrid working, and younger employees are being asked to quickly develop resilience. We reflected on the start of our careers, and realised our mentoring relationship had really made a difference.
The mentee’s view: Andy
Hish and I were paired up during my bp wells engineering summer internship in 2019, which was key in preparing me for a job post-graduation. As a first-generation university student, I didn’t know what to expect from the transition into work. While I felt equipped with engineering skills, I wasn’t sure how to best apply them.
Hish’s genuine and approachable character immediately stood out. Although I initially felt insecure about my skill gaps, Hish helped me address them. By setting goals and taking a structured approach to my development, I gained a sense of urgency over my growth and sought out opportunities to gradually push my capabilities.
Hish and I also found common ground in our experiences as first-generation university students. Being able to identify with his story and having a visual of what my own trajectory could look like was vital for my self-confidence. His genuine passion for uplifting others, and particularly to see me succeed, not only made me feel that his guidance was trustworthy, it pushed me to invest in myself.
The mentor’s view: Hish
Most people think of mentorship as a one-way relationship, yet valuing the joint expertise and insights we both brought to the table ensured our relationship was mutually beneficial.
After joining bp as an engineering intern in 2016 and starting my first role as a graduate completions engineer in 2017, I was eager to give back to the early careers schemes that supported my transition to full-time. Andy has helped me develop my technical and soft skill coaching while also learning how to advocate for himself when he disagreed with a certain course of direction. He also challenged me to future-proof my career skills and encouraged me to be open with my career stories and use platforms like LinkedIn to network.
Although I was initially nervous, seeing Andy take on feedback and improve throughout the internship gave me confidence in my teaching. Coming from a socially deprived community meant I had to jump through extra hoops while navigating higher education and my early career; however, mentoring has been a great exercise in affirming both my knowledge and value.
Paying it forward
For us, mentorship allows us to develop and have the opportunity to develop others. Hish acts as the discipline lead for the wells early careers programme at bp, and Andy mentors young people in schools and universities to pursue STEM courses and break down social barriers.
It has also been instrumental for inclusivity – a massively important consideration for graduates who may feel that because of their backgrounds they are under-equipped to be successful in the workplace. At the same time, mentorship helps to challenge those beliefs, it also provides tangible pathways for upward mobility. Not only can mentoring be rewarding for one’s career, it can also provide an invaluable opportunity to build friendships that last.
Hisham Hamid & Andy Bruce are engineers at bp