5 EASY WAYS TO BOOST YOUR MOTIVATION

If the pandemic has left you feeling demotivated and unsure of what your next step will be then you’re not alone.

Adapting to the threat of COVID-19 has changed all our lives in unexpected ways, with many of us facing a whole new range of life challenges, from working from home, furlough and additional childcare responsibilities to cancelled travel plans, isolation and separation from valued support networks. With all this taken into account it’s not surprising if our personal and professional development has been put on the back-burner.

Although we’re are not out of the woods yet, the gradual easing of the lockdown rules has given us some much-needed space for a breather and to think about our options. But with the economy and job market in uncertain flux, it can be difficult to motivate ourselves to make those positive steps forward.

So, we’ve put together 5 easy ways you can give your motivation a boost and get you moving in the right direction

  1. FIND INSPIRATION IN OTHERS

We’ve all met those special people who inspire us. Whether that be a leader in your industry, a prominent voice in a cause you believe in or just someone who is on your wavelength. Finding inspiration in others is a great first step in boosting your motivation, and right now it’s easier than ever.  

The quality and accessibility of online events has moved forward in leaps and bounds during the pandemic, with many traditional in-person events moving online and therefore giving you access to speakers from all over the world on a wide range of subjects. You can search for online events on Eventbrite and as most of the events are online you are no longer limited to just events in your area. If the arts is more your bag, The List can direct you to the latest Q&As with your favourite creators.

If you are looking for a more personal touch, you could consider finding a mentor on the online alumni hub, From Salford. The platform makes it really easy for you to connect with a fellow Salford graduate in your industry and you can chat via the platform or set up a separate video call.

2. CHALLENGE YOURSELF

If you have spent lockdown catching up on your knitting, tackling a cross stitch or picking up the paint brushes you are in good company. UK based arts and crafts retailer Hobbycraft have reported a 200% rise in sales during the lockdown period. It seems we have been taking the opportunity to get creative!

A creative hobby can help you to improve and manage your mental health, as well as help you to expand your mind and interests. It allows you to maintain a healthy life balance and many hobbies come with new social circles. Taking time out from your usual activities and interests and taking on something new can really boost your motivation.

If you want to take your hobby to the next level, you could even enrol on an online course at FutureLearn, many of which are free.

3. ASK QUESTIONS

Many of us are still afraid of asking questions. Even though Albert Einstein famously attributed his success to his curiosity rather than his talents, sometimes our shyness or fear of asking the wrong questions can get in the way of us acquiring the information we need.

According to a 2018 article in the Harvard Business Review, asking questions ‘spurs learning and the exchange of ideas, it fuels innovation and performance improvement, it builds rapport and trust’.

An easy first step in getting the answers you need, but in a safe and friendly environment, is on From Salford. You can use the directory to search for fellow alumni who are engaged in the sort of activity you are interested in, or may be able to open doors for you, and send them a question. Many of our alumni have indicated they are ‘happy to help’ on their profile so will be expecting your questions. 

4. ORGANISE YOURSELF

Taking the time or organise yourself can be a huge help when trying to find the motivation to tackle your growing tasks.

Mindtools offers a range of articles and tools to assist you in making the most effective use of your time. It offers a range of career resources, including project management tools and other resources to help you manage your workload. It sounds simple, but just taking some time to organise your ‘to do’ list can make you feel a lot less overwhelmed and able to take on each task at a time.

Rearranging your workspace can help you to feel more productive too. With many of us working from home in less than ideal set ups, now more than ever we should be ensuring our environment is as clear and comfortable as possible. Not all of us are lucky enough to have a home office, so even if you are perched on the end of a kitchen island or in one of the kids’ bedrooms, do what you can to make it work for you. Creating a dedicated workspace will help give you the mindset that you are ‘at work’ when you are in that area – and somewhere to ‘leave’ at the end of the day. And make sure to take plenty of breaks.

5. EDUCATE YOURSELF IN SOMETHING NEW

If you feel unmotivated in the field you’re in then maybe it’s time to explore something new. Taking time to educate yourself about something you’ve previously not explored can widen your perspective and increase your motivation.

With so much information at our fingertips it is fairly easy to research an interest, whether it be that non-fiction book you never had time to read or a documentary on Netflix, there is always something to pique your interest. A new interest adds a new string to your bow and you never know where it might take you.

Don’t forget that on From Salford you can access a arrange of online journals and e-books ranging from academic papers to news articles and CPD resources. It’s a really useful way to broaden your reading and find out more about any subject of interest

We hope these tips to boost your motivation have helped you in some way. It’s important to remember that whether you’re making huge strides or taking baby steps, you’re still going in the right direction.

If we can support you in any way please let us know. The University offers a careers service for life and you can access a range of resources at From Salford.

Share your top tips for boosting your motivation in the comments below.

SALFORD SAYS THANK YOU

Over the last few weeks it has been incredibly uplifting to hear about the members of our University community who have kept us safe and healthy during COVID-19. We want to extend a heart-felt thank you to those of you who have worked tirelessly on the front lines.  

Many of our alumni and honorary graduates have reached out to express their gratitude by sharing videos with us:

Maxine Peake:

Here is our amazing former student Maxine Peake to join us in saying #SalfordSaysThankYou! At The University of Salford we could not be more thankful to all our wonderful students, staff and alumni working on the front line, keeping us safe during the pandemic. We want to wish everyone a huge thank you, please tag any family or friends that are currently working the frontline so we can get this thank you to everyone who deserves it!

Posted by Salford Alumni on Thursday, 7 May 2020

Film director Mike Leigh, known for an extensive back catalogue of British films, including Vera Drake and Peterloo:

‪We wanted to bring you another #SalfordSaysThankYou from Peterloo & Vera Drake director Mike Leigh, one of The University of Salford's special honorary alumni! We would love to know if any of you are working the frontline in the comments, or tag friends and family who are!

Posted by Salford Alumni on Thursday, 14 May 2020

BBC Radio presenter, author and mental health advocate Katie Thistleton:

At The University of Salford, we could not be more thankful to the students, staff and alumni working on the front line to keep us safe. This week's message for #SalfordSaysThankYou comes from our amazing alumna Radio 1 presenter, Katie Thistleton, who has been an inspiration! Do you know someone working on the frontline? Let us know below so we can thank them!

Posted by Salford Alumni on Thursday, 21 May 2020

Musician, DJ and radio presenter Clint Boon:

Manchester legend Clint Boon is here to deliver this #SalfordSaysThankYou to all the amazing #FrontLineHeroes out there! We were so pleased to have him back at The University of Salford for this important message. We would love to thank you all for your help! Please tag anyone you think deserves a huge thank you in the comments below, or even leave your own stories!

Posted by Salford Alumni on Thursday, 28 May 2020

Emmerdale actor Liam Fox:

Liam Fox says Thank You

Emmerdale actor and Salford alumnus Liam Fox, known for playing Dan Spencer on the soap opera, has spoken out to thank front line workers in today's #SalfordSaysThankYou video. We are proud of all the members of our University community who continue to keep us safe and healthy during these times. Tag your friends and family making a difference in the comments!

Posted by Salford Alumni on Thursday, 4 June 2020

Andrew Gwynne MP:

Today's lovely #SalfordSaysThankYou video comes from alumnus and MP, Andrew Gwynne! He has spoken out to thank front line workers here, but we would love to see all our alumni doing the same! We are proud of all the members of The University of Salford community who continue to keep us safe and healthy during these times. Tag your friends and family making a difference in the comments!

Posted by Salford Alumni on Friday, 5 June 2020

You can join the conversation on our Salford Alumni Facebook and Twitter.

OUR ALUMNI HEROES

As the University continues to respond to the evolving challenges the virus has presented, many of our alumni have been in touch to tell us how they have responded to the virus outbreak within their communities and throughout the world. We have been inspired by some of these tales and we wanted to share them with you.

Here are some of your stories.

Ameera Fletcher (Class of 2017)

Ameera (right) is the Director of Cre8 Macclesfield, a youth and community programme based in the Moss Estate in Macclesfield. During the pandemic Cre8 has managed to realign their services to work remotely with the mission of “small but mighty”. 

As well as moving much of their youth and community project online they have also adapted to a mobile grocery service, so they can deliver donated food to the homes of those who are self-isolating or following social distancing rules.

Over the last few weeks demand for the service has grown, increasing from a two-day a week service to feeding approximately 500 people over a five-day week. The team now collect up to 1.5 tonnes of food twice a week from FareShare and other suppliers and distribute it to those who need it most within the community.    

Ameera said: “Being able to feed people and connect through food is fantastic – seeing people smile when we turn up is heart-warming during these testing times.”


Clifford Iteshi (Class of 2014)

Throughout the pandemic Clifford has volunteered his time to ensure NHS professionals are able to travel to work at Salford Royal Hospital safely.

Clifford said: “Many of the people I have driven to work are nervous about using public transport during lockdown. I am happy to provide free transport for they can get to work and home again”.

Clifford also regularly checks in with neighbours and people within the community who live alone and has even filmed video demonstrations of hand hygiene and identifying COVID-19 symptoms that he has shared with people who are self-isolating.


Jeremy Davies (Class of 2019)

Jeremy is an Alcohol Detox Nurse within Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust, working with Trafford Achieve to deliver interventions for people affected by alcohol use.

During the pandemic Jeremy has been supporting the clinical team by conducting welfare checks for service users to ensure they have continued treatment, as well as ensuring access to medication and people are able to self-isolate effectively if necessary.

Jeremy said: “In recent weeks it has become more apparent how vulnerable this group of patients are. The lockdown and inevitable isolation has impacted on the mental health of many service users”. With a sharp surge in demand for mental health support, safeguarding against domestic violence and an increase in alcohol abuse, Jeremy has offered support and advice to those who need it.

“I have enjoyed supporting this group of patients during this difficult time and I hope that this work provides a valuable contribution to maintaining service users health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.”


Jane Gerrard (Class of 2016)

As an experienced Occupational Health Counsellor within the NHS, Jane has devoted her attention to supporting the mental wellbeing of the NHS professionals on the frontline of the fight against the virus.

Jane has been able to offer telephone counselling to colleagues dealing with a range of increased challenges due to the pandemic. In particular, those required to stay in hotel accommodation between shifts and are therefore separated from families and valuable support networks.  

Jane said: “The things that can sometimes be taken for granted as givens; wellness, relationships with family and friends, job security and hopes for the future. These are the valuable aspects of life that have suddenly become under threat.”

However, despite the challenges Jane has also witnessed an emergence of optimism. “I am privileged to be able to experience the hope, appreciation and insight from those that have risked their own wellbeing to help others in their fight for wellness.”


Isaac Ofori (Class of 2019)

Isaac works with the UN mission in South Sudan. He and a group of former military service men from Ghana have collectively donated $20,000 to fund the purchase of PPE supplies for hospital staff at 37 military hospitals in Ghana.


Erika Clark (Class of 2004)

Music graduate and music teacher, Erika, wrote and recorded a new song, Rainbow of Hope, in which she features 40 local school children as vocalists to raise money for NHS Charities Together. She has more than achieved her target of £1,000 and the funds are still rolling in.

She was joined by Robin Dewhurst, Reader in Music at the University, who played the piano accompaniments for the track.

You can listen to Erika talk about the story behind the song on BBC Radio Manchester here.


24 alumni from China donated 2,000 medical grade face masks to a residential care home in Bolton. The alumni, who all graduated from Salford Business School between 2004 and 2015, decided to donate the masks due to their fond memories of studying at Salford and their continued loyalty to the University.

The School of Health & Society facilitated the donation and put the alumni in touch with The Old Vicarage Residential Care Home in Bolton, a partner of the University. The face masks were gratefully received by residents and staff and they thank our alumni in China for their generous donation.

If you have been supporting your community during COVID-19, and would like to tell us about it, please get in touch at alumni@salford.ac.uk.

HOW TO ACCESS EMERALD INSIGHT AS A SALFORD ALUMNUS

Earlier this year we launched, free access to journals from a variety of platforms.

However due to recent updates, the access method used by one of our journal providers; Emerald has changed. This comes with the benefits of having a personalized account with streamlined access, and the ability to save your favourite searches and journals.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how Salford alumni can continue to access Journals on every topic via Emerald:

Step 1: Register for FromSalford.com

If you have already been accessing Emerald and other journals as a Salford alumnus then you will already have an account with us! If you don’t, please see our previous article for details on how to register.

Step 2: Register with Emerald

From https://www.emerald.com/insight/ You will see 2 options to register or login to the platform. If this is your first time accessing – you will need to select ‘Register’.

You will need your name, e-mail address and Organisation Access Number. (This is found at https://fromsalford.com/groups/13/about under the “Emerald” section.

You must be signed into FromSalford.com in order to view the Organisation Access Number required to register with Emerald.

Step 3: Activate Your Account

Once you have registered and agreed the terms and conditions and privacy policy – you will need to activate your account. You will receive an e-mail prompting you to do so.

You will then need to create a password to finish setting up your account.

Step 4: Continue Browsing Emerald Insight!

Congratulations, you are now a member of Emerald Insight via the University of Salford! Now that you have an account, you can skip all these steps and log straight onto Emerald to browse at your leisure.

For instructions on how to access the other journals FromSalford.com provides Salford alumni – please click here.

THE ART OF ADAPTATION: KEEPING YOUR SMALL BUSINESS AFLOAT DURING COVID-19

Salford alumna Dr Melissa Sterry, is a leading design scientist, systems theorist, and futurist. She is a serial founder and is currently director of Biofuturism consultancy Bioratorium™.

An expert on creating adaptable businesses and examining future trends and challenges, here she offers her guide to keeping you and your business operational and effective during the current pandemic.

For those of us who have spent months or years developing a business, pouring in our heart and soul, or making the brave decision to go freelance, the current global crisis may feel like we’re heading towards a black hole. But we are all in this together. Here are my tips on how to stay afloat in this ocean of uncertainty

1. REPOSITION YOUR OFFER

With most people confined to their homes your online presence has never been more important. How you style your online comms is a matter of personal choice. But, whatever that choice, it should resonate with your intended market. If you are repositioning your offer in light of market changes, that means adapting your visual and written narrative as required. Remember also that curating your online presence doesn’t just mean adding content, it also means removing it as and when necessary.

Be savvy to new platforms and technology; and ensure to focus on quality not quantity of messaging. We want to capture our audience’s attentions, so think about that one piece of clever content that will make you stand out rather than lots of run-of-the-mill items. 

2. BE UP FRONT

Working from home, social distancing and home schooling has left many of us struggling to fulfil client briefs. If this is the case, it is important to be up-front and communicate with your clients. They are also adapting to new ways of working and therefore you can navigate the situation together. The worst thing you can do if you’re struggling is go AWOL. The sooner you pick up the phone or email to communicate a problem, the sooner you can negotiate a solution.

3. LIGHTEN THE LOAD

Most freelancers and small businesses run tight ships. Hence, their capacity to cut costs is limited. Nonetheless, now is the time to review expenditures and prune any non-essential costs, such as subscriptions, and research potentially more cost-effective suppliers.

You can make use of social media to keep up-to-date on the latest news and advice from organisations such as HMRC and other bodies, as well as financial journalists and experts, such as Martin Lewis, who can help you take advantage of initiatives designed to help you.

4. DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY

If not blood, then certainly sweat and tears go into building any small business. This is why, for many of us, business tends to feel very personal. It is all too easy for us to take some of the commercial impacts of market down turns as personal failings. In your business life, as in your personal life, it’s important to be able to move on from situations that no longer serve you well. Moving your business forward doesn’t discredit your past achievements. It is important to acknowledge what has changed, why it has changed and what you can do to adapt.

5. READ THE MOMENT

The most successful entrepreneurs across all sectors keep their fingers firmly on the pulse of change. By maintaining an interest in the world-at-large and absorbing all media, you can break out of your sphere of vision and experience. The broader your understanding of the factors that shape unfolding events, the better your ability to gage how, why, and where you – or rather your business – need to be.

Content that will help you to read the moment includes the official social media accounts, newsletters, and other updates of:

  • Pre-eminent industry and trade bodies [i.e. institutes, societies and unions] both in your sector, and those that relate to your clients and suppliers.
  • HMRC, Companies House, and other government organisations concerned with business taxation, administration, and governance.
  • The leading research, trade, and other journals that service both your sector, and they of your current and possible future clients.
  • Current and possible future clients, and in the case of multinational groups, their press offices and other news outlets.
  • Bookmarking, and content curation apps, such as Flipboard are also great tools.

6. WIDEN YOUR NETWORK

In the day to day running of a business, it is very easy to focus on the short-term gains at the expense of long-term viability. This is why it pays to have a network of critical friends and mentors to support you. While a problem shared isn’t always a problem halved, it is a problem which you may better understand with the benefit of a second or third opinion.

In the first instance, the help of mentors, coaches, peers and other experts will help you to address your most immediate needs. However, with time, these relationships will typically help you see opportunities you might have otherwise missed and to understand how you can harness those opportunities.

Some of the places you can look to expand your network include:

  • From Salford alumni mentoring and networking platform
  • Trade and industry institutes and societies, such as the RSA
  • Linkedin, The Dots, and other professional social media platforms

From Salford also offers you the opportunity to create or join groups based on location or industry area. This will enable to you to connect with fellow graduates with similar interests with whom you can share advice and support. The groups can be found here. If there is not a group that suits your needs you can start your own.

7. ADD TO YOUR VALUE

As the pandemic inevitably shrinks some markets, others will undoubtedly flourish. As a small business owner or freelancer, you have little to lose and everything to gain by adding value to your commercial offer.

Your first step is to review where your knowledge and skills have gaps, and to what extent. The next step is evaluating the opportunities at your disposal to plug those gaps. Often we concern ourselves with the cost and time commitment but there are many institutions that offer competitively priced, and often entirely free online courses across wide-ranging subject fields. Most are flexibly structured so your studies can work around other commitments.

Some examples of where you can find free online courses include:

You can also access free online libraries, archives, and citizen science programmes such as:

Online talks can be a great way to broaden your knowledge and understanding. You can find a wide range of talks here:

FACING THE UNKNOWN

So, you’ve read the moment, identified new business opportunities in the process, your online business profile is looking hot to trot, your I’s and T’s are dotted and crossed, your outgoings streamlined, and you’ve done everything in your power to adapt to extraordinary circumstances.

Even for the most agile and experienced of innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs, the journey ahead will be a challenging one. All of us are at a new trading frontier, which like all uncharted territories, presents risks both known and unknown. Tread with care and optimism. Good luck.

Find out more about Melissa Sterry here.

Connect with Melissa on the University’s networking and mentoring platform exclusively for Salford graduates: From Salford

HOW TO ACCESS ONLINE JOURNALS ON FROMSALFORD.COM

Please note: As of 06/05/2020 – this method no longer works for Emerald Insight. To access Emerald Insight. To access Emerald, please see the instructions here.

Recently we launched a brand new service for our alumni – entirely free access to a range of online resources, including journals and e-books to support you in your ongoing education. You can read all about the online resources available to you in our last blog post.

It is important to note that you can only access the online journals via FromSalford.com, our alumni benefits hub. Bookmarking the journals sites directly, typing the URLs manually or googling them will NOT authenticate access and you will not be able to take advantage of the free access we have arranged for you.

Here is a step by step guide on how you can make the most of your Salford alumni status and browse a wide variety of top-quality e-books and journals.

1. Log In/Sign Up to FromSalford.com

To create an account, click ‘Get Started’ or if you already have an account, click ‘Sign In’ in the top right corner.

You can sign in using an existing LinkedIn, Google, or Facebook account – or you can create an account from scratch with your e-mail address.

Once your account is made and verified (all new registrants should be verified within 2-3 working days) you are free to access the platform and all the wonderful features included.

2. Navigate to the ‘E-books & E-Journals’ Group

After signing in, you will be greeted with the feed page:

You can find the online resources in the ’Groups‘ tab on the left-hand side.

Use the Search bar or scroll down to find the group titled ’E-Books & E-Journals’.

From here, click to enter.

You should automatically be taken to the ‘About’ page. If you accidently navigate elsewhere, you can return to this page by clicking the ‘i’ icon in the top right corner

3. Accessing the Journals

When clicking on the group you will land on the description page. If you have already joined the group you will be taken to the group’s feed. We would recommend bookmarking this URL, as this will be needed every time you want to access any of these journals. The URL for you to bookmark is https://fromsalford.com/groups/13/about.

When you are ready, click on any of the red hyperlinks to be taken directly to to the corresponding journal sites.

4. Using the journals

Upon clicking the hyperlink from the FromSalford.com group – you will be taken to the journal site home page. As we have arranged alumni access for you you do not need to login. Therefore ignore the Log in/Register buttons. Authentication is done via FromSalford.com, so no additional login is needed. You will know if it has worked, as you will see a tab near the top that reads ‘Access provided by University of Salford Alumni Access’ or something similar.

5. Browsing the Journals

Now you’ve got access – browse away!

It’s worth nothing that with Jstor, Emerald and Sage alumni access is limited – so to make sure you are only searching content that you are able to view in full, we recommend using the ‘Advanced Search’ tool where necessary; and make sure that you have ‘Content I Can Access’ under the search preferences. (See below)

Rocksbackpages, Bloomsbury & HS Talks do not require these options, as we have access to the vast majority of the content available.

We hope you enjoy accessing the online resources. If you experience any problems with access please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at alumni@salford.ac.uk.

You can read more about the collection of e-journal sites available to you here.

Please note – this method does not work with the FromSalford mobile app. If you are a mobile user, please follow the same method through your web browser.

YOUR GUIDE TO THE ONLINE JOURNALS AND RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO YOU

We know many of our graduates choose to continue their studies, either here at Salford or other institutions. We can now offer you access to millions of online journals and e-books via our online alumni portal, From Salford. And it won’t cost you a penny.

E-books and e-journals aren’t just useful for those continuing academic life, they can provide useful references for anyone who is keen to take on new knowledge or explore areas of interest.

You can access the wide range of resources via your online alumni portal, From Salford. If you are not already a member of From Salford signing up is quick and simple. As well as journal access you can enjoy all the features From Salford has to offer, from searching for jobs and networking with your fellow Salford alumni to sharing events and finding a mentor

Here is a guide to what online resources are available to you:

JSTOR

The JSTOR Essentials collection holds a wide range of content for anyone interested in humanities and social sciences. It features nearly 700 core titles across 45 disciplines including history, education, language, literature, business and politics.

Also available on JSTOR is JSTOR Daily, a news source that digs deeper than your average publication and asks questions to satisfy the most inquisitive of minds. Featuring articles such as: How Safe Is BPA-Free Plastic? What comes after oil culture? How did Doris Day change us forever? You never know what you might find.

EMERALD INSIGHT

Emerald offers a vast portfolio of over 300 journals, more than 2,500 e-books and over 1,500 teaching cases. For those interested in business, health and society, or those looking to broaden their employability skills, then Emerald can give you the support you need.

HS TALKS BUSINESS & MANAGEMENT COLLECTION

Inspiring lectures and case studies from leading experts in commerce, industry and academia can be found on HS Talks. You can browse through over 1,000 lectures on subjects as broad as ‘An Introduction to Economics’ to ‘Gene Transfer and Gene Therapy’. Whatever your discipline or level of understanding, you’ll find content that aids your research or interests.

SAGE

SAGE publishes over 1,000 journals a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. You can also submit your own journals for publication and add your work to the ever-growing library of knowledge.

ROCK’S BACKPAGES

A must for music fans, Rock’s Backpages features over 40,000 classic articles on popular artists spanning numerous genres and generations like Elvis, Hendrix, Bowie, Joy Division, Oasis, The Chemical Brothers, Take That, Beyoncé and so much more.

BLOOMSBURY DRAMA ONLINE

A particularly useful resource for creatives. Bloomsbury Drama Online is an award-winning digital library of over 2,500 play texts, 400 audio plays, 300 hours of video and 370 books of criticism and performance practice from leading theatre publishers and companies. A real treat for theatre enthusiasts and researchers alike.

BLOOMSBURY FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE

Make it fashion with exclusive access to a vast and expanding library of rare and iconic images. Taken in the era between the late 1970s and 2000, over 90% of images are available online for the first time, and all are copyright-cleared for educational use.

It is important to note that you can only access the online journals via FromSalford.com. Bookmarking the journals sites directly, typing the URLs manually or googling them will NOT authenticate access and you will not be able to take advantage of the free access we have arranged for you. You can find out more about accessing the journals here.

Please note – Journal Access is not currently possible via the FromSalford Mobile App. If you are a mobile user – please use a web browser to access the journals.

We hope you enjoy continuing your learning journey through From Salford, with our compliments.

MENTORING – WHY DO IT?

To gain insight into why we should all consider building mentoring relationships, we spoke to alumna mentor Natalie Walker (Construction Project Management, 2005) about her amazing experience of mentoring and the opportunities it brought her Salford University mentee.

You can find Natalie on FromSalford.com along with hundreds of other amazing alumni just waiting to share their advice, experience and support.

Unsure where to start? Why not read our advice and tips from mentor match expert Hannah Wilson and check out the video tutorial on finding a mentor on From Salford.com.

FIND YOUR MENTOR MATCH

Having a mentor can be a great way to help you progress in your career, build confidence, challenge yourself and develop new skills and experience. But how do you find one? If you’re lucky, you might realise there’s already great potential mentors in your current network that you can ask. But we’re aware that’s not the case for everyone, which is where FromSalford, our online alumni network, can help. Instantly connecting you to alumni living all over the world working in a broad spectrum of industries who have offered their support, it instantly offers a whole range of mentor opportunities.

To help you navigate the process of finding the right mentor for you, we spoke to seasoned mentor matching expert Hannah Wilson. Hannah runs the University of Salford’s mentoring programmes, including the Industry Advice Scheme which each year matches over 50 students with alumni mentors. Below you’ll find Hannah’s top tips and advice on how to find a great mentor match.  

BE PREPARED
Before you begin seeking a mentor, make sure you’ve really considered what you want to get out of the relationship. Take the time to write down your career and development goals. This will give you a chance to consider how a mentor could help you achieve them and the type of skills, experience and professional network you’d ideally like them to have.

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
Once you’ve asked yourself why you’re seeking a mentor and what you want to achieve, you should find that you’re able to approach the search for a mentor with a broader mindset. For example, if you’re looking to change career track entirely, it’s unlikely you’re going to find a mentor who has experienced exactly the same transition you’re looking to make. However, most careers aren’t linear and there’ll be plenty of alumni out there who have made a large career change. Whatever their field or industry, they’ll be able to talk you through the process of making a career transition such as: considering how your skill set is transferable, facing the fear of the unknown and utilising your current network to create new opportunities.

And remember not to just consider a potential mentor’s skills and abilities when deciding if they’re the right fit. It may be that their wider professional network could provide some of the guidance and support you’re looking for.

OPPOSITES ATTRACT
It’s very rare that we match a student with an alumnus that is like them, in fact, it’s usually exactly the opposite! Consider your current friendships or relationship – most of us are drawn to people with traits that counter dominant elements of our personality. Keep that in mind during your search and initial conversations with potential mentors.

SHOW COMMITMENT
All relationships take time to develop, and mentoring relationships are no different. Don’t dismiss a potential mentor from the first message exchange or meeting. Give the relationship time to develop so you can both assess whether you’ll work well together and have a chance to get to know one another.

We always remind our students that if they’re asking an alumnus to invest time and energy into their development then it’s important that they’re treat them with respect by promptly replying to communications and keeping scheduled meetings. It may seem obvious but when you’re juggling the work/life/study balance, it’s easy to let a mentoring relationship slip. As with any relationship, you get out what you put in and we find it’s our mentees that fully commit to mentoring who reap the rewards, gaining their mentor’s industry contacts, job opportunities and much more.

THERE’S NO SECRET FORMULA
In my experience, there’s no secret formula to finding a perfect mentoring match for someone. A good mentor should challenge your perceptions, provide critical feedback and listen to your thoughts and ideas. But in the past few years, I’ve learnt that great mentors come in many forms and have a myriad of working styles. It’s often a case of trial and error in testing ways of working and of course there is an element of luck! Not everyone will find their first mentoring relationship will bear fruit but you may find their professional network can help or that it helps you identify what you’d be looking for in your next mentor.

READY TO FIND A MENTOR?

Then head over to your exclusive alumni and networking platform FromSalford. With over 2,000 alumni working in a wide range of sectors offering their support and guidance, you’re bound to find a match that’s right for you.

FromSalford‘s directory is designed to help, providing a number of ways to filter your search of the Alumni Directory, whether that’s by industry, location or the ways in which they can offer their support.  During the month of February 2020, we’ve also pinned a ‘How to Find a Mentor’ video at the top of the FromSalford news feed, to help you get to grips with how things work.  

SHARE YOUR STORY 
If you’ve already got a fantastic mentor or have any tips for other alumni, we’d love to hear from you. Please just post on FromSalford or email us on alumni@salford.ac.uk.

NEW DECADE, NEW YOU

We all find it hard to keep career related resolutions, especially when we don’t see progress as quickly as we’d like. But this is a new decade and with it, comes a chance to approach things differently. If you’re looking to make changes in your career or want to reassess your professional development we’ve got some ideas that might get you feeling like the twenties is going to be your decade. 

1. MAKE YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE

Writing down or saying your goals out loud can really help you make your goals happen. But a study by psychologist professor Dr Gail Matthews showed that you’re 70 per cent more likely to keep goals which you tell to someone else and update them on.  

Instead of telling a friend or a peer, you might like to try seeking out someone whose career you admire or someone in a later career stage. There are graduates in all kinds of careers, fields and roles on FromSalford.com who have said they’re willing to help. Reaching out to someone you admire and who you can check in with is a great way to make yourself accountable and kick you into action. And the real positive is, they’re likely to have suggestions on how to improve your chances of reaching your goals, provide new connections or just help you see things in a different light.

Image result for new year resolution

2. CREATE A SUPPORT SYSTEM

Creating a support system you can confide in and rely on has long been advocated by mental health professionals for its importance in improving quality of life. But not everyone considers whether they have one that helps them really develop and build their confidence as they grow in their career.

Have a think about your current network and consider those you can turn to with your challenges and goals this year, whether that’s a project at work you’re struggling with or questioning your next career step.  Although you might have a great support system in place currently, you might feel like there’s still an opportunity to expand it and through it, gain new insight and possibilities.

If you are looking to expand your support network but have no idea where to start, remember there’s a whole host of Salford graduates out there from your course and working in your industry. Why not consider setting up a group on From Salford for your course area or work field and inviting likeminded people to join? What have you got to lose? It’s an opportunity to meet some new people and you might even find someone who can provide some much-needed advice. The old saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ has stuck around for a reason.

Image result for support system

3. KEEP AN OPEN MIND

Success comes in many forms, but we can be blinkered when it comes to our own career development, believing there’s only one avenue to progress down. But as Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg famously said, your career should be a ‘jungle gym, not a ladder’. We live in a fast-paced world where the job market is constantly evolving and those who are willing to take the route less travelled are those that are seeing the gains.

If you’re willing to consider a different track to the one you’re on but have no idea where to start, take a look at alumni profiles on FromSalford.com for inspiration. You’ll see many people who have done a similar course to you who haven’t taken a direct route in their career. And if you’re interested in finding out more and they’ve flagged that they’re willing to help, try contacting them to enquire how they made changes in their career and asking if they have any advice.

For that extra level support and guidance, remember you have access to the Careers and Employability services for life and can always use their resources or get in touch.

Related image

4. BE PATIENT

Whether it’s securing that perfect role or working out what you want to do, it’s natural to feel frustrated if it’s not happening overnight. But sadly, unlike the Hollywood films, we can’t movie montage our way to success in a couple of minutes (shame). It’s important to remember to break your goals down into small achievable steps and celebrate the wins you do have. You would have never expected to complete your degree in a few months, so be kind to yourself and keep going! And remember to take time for yourself to enjoy other hobbies and activities, personal development can take lots of forms.

If you’ve got some tips and tricks that help you achieve your new year’s resolutions, please share them on FromSalford.com with other graduates. You might just help someone see things from a different perspective.