Creating opportunities through mentoring

(c) David Pratt

Chemistry student Farhan Khawaja and alumnus Hamish Beeston (BA 1992) were paired up by the Bristol Mentors programme.

Farhan’s story

I’ve always been interested in both science and the media and I’m hoping to enter a career path which combines those interests. Getting into the media industry is challenging because a lot of it is about who you know and getting your foot in the door. That’s why I applied to the Bristol Mentors programme during my third year. I wanted to connect with someone in the TV and film industry and learn more about the path they took to get there.

My mentor, Hamish, has always been very friendly, considerate and happy to help me. It’s been so useful being able to speak to him while I’ve been applying for graduate jobs and internships. I was especially grateful to be given the chance to complete an internship at Hamish’s company. I got to try out lots of different things while I was there, such as interviewing people on camera and using drones to capture aerial footage. Getting that hands-on experience was brilliant and that would never have happened without the Bristol Mentors programme.

After taking part in the mentorship scheme I feel a lot more confident about finding my way into the media industry. I’ve definitely learnt a lot from Hamish. It’s nice to know that even after people graduate, they still feel connected to the University and want to help students like me.

Farhan Khawaja (left) and Hamish Beeston (right)

Hamish’s story

I spent 15 years making documentaries for the BBC before setting up my own video production company, Beeston Media. When I was thinking about getting into television as a student, the University connected me with alumni in the industry who were happy to give advice. Many of those contacts gave me useful guidance which I really appreciated. I’m now at a stage in my career where it felt like the right time to give back by becoming a mentor myself.

The Bristol Mentors programme is specifically targeted at students who are underrepresented in the University population in some way. By offering my time, I hoped I could help a student who might not necessarily have a set of industry contacts or family connections to turn to.

I was matched up with Farhan, and we started having one-hour online mentoring sessions. In these, we’d chat over cover letters, look through pieces of editorial work or talk through interview tips. Farhan even came to intern at Beeston Media and we got him involved in as many parts of the filming process as possible – from going out on shoots to sitting in on edits. Farhan is such a bright student and it was great to work with him and help build his experience. It’s been lovely to mentor a Bristol student, especially after I was given that help myself while I was at the University.

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