Business Development Manager at Tetra Tech International Development
"I have been able to give back to the industry and pass on information and tips which I wish I'd had access to as an undergraduate.”
Rebecca Smith has worked in the International Development sector for four-five years, predominantly in the private sector at consultancy and engineering firms. With an understanding of exactly how stressful it is to find opportunities and agonise over job applications in the International Affairs industry, Rebecca joined the WIAN mentorship programme as a mentor, in 2020. Rebecca intended to give back to the next generation of bright, enthusiastic, and passionate students who were looking for their break and their chance to make a difference in the world.
Over the course of the WIAN programme, Rebecca mentored MR, an undergraduate student at the time, studying International Relations, Mandarin & History at Durham University, UK. MR joined the mentorship programme in 2020 as a mentee, seeking to acquire valuable insight into the international affairs network as well as tailored support towards a meaningful career in the industry. As an International undergraduate student, MR found it especially hard to break into the international affairs industry as many opportunities required a higher degree level before one’s application could be considered.
Familiar with the challenges faced at career entry level, especially the barriers faced by International students, Rebecca imparted her mentee with knowledge she wished she had at the initial stages of her own professional journey. Rebecca put together a database of organisations that MR could look at, a list of networks and career sites, as well as information that she could use to prepare herself to apply for internship opportunities. Rebecca also worked through draft versions of MR's CV and cover letters where she provided extensive feedback and reviewed and approved edited versions. She provided support in the development of a boilerplate cover letter and together they worked on application letters for different opportunities.
MR said, “Rebecca not only opened my eyes to the private sector of the development field but showed me opportunities beyond the general voluntary and charity opportunities normally advertised by the development sector.” The endless opportunities available in the development sector was a welcomed piece of information MR intended to use going forward.
Regularly overlooked as a barrier to progression in careers, Rebecca also addressed the issue of self and professional confidence. She stressed the importance of knowing what you have and why it is valuable to others. Together, Rebecca and MR practiced interviewing skills, especially mock interview sessions which helped MR gain confidence to explain and package her knowledge and experience in a professional manner.
Referring to the WIAN programme as an excellent experience, MR has not been the only recipient of growth and development over the 7months of the programme. As a mentor, Rebecca’s ambition of becoming a line manager has been fulfilled. Mentoring MR provided the perfect opportunity for Rebecca to work one on one with someone from a more senior perspective. Since the program ended, Rebecca has secured a line manager role with Coffey (Tetra-Tech). Rebecca says, “I gained direct experience of mentoring which has set me up well for my new role as a line manager. I feel I have been able to give back to the industry and pass on information and tips which I wish I'd had access to as an undergraduate...”