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My Womentoring experience – Jamie Marie Ellis (MA 2019)

5 December 2023

In March 2023, freelance writer, content producer, and communications consultant Jamie Marie Ellis (MA 2019) took part in Womentoring, our annual flash mentoring scheme for Cardiff’s alumnae. Jamie was mentored by fellow alumna Jane Cook (BA 2008), an independent PR consultant and founder of Cardiff Wine Passport. Jamie reflects on her experience as a mentee on the programme and shares how it has positively impacted her career.  

What was your experience of the Womentoring scheme?

It was a really good experience and Jane was very committed to her mentees. I found the programme confidence-building, and it was great to hear other women’s stories, how their careers have progressed, and any issues they were facing.

The fact that this was a mentoring programme for women was also reassuring, as a mother of young children who wanted to balance a career in writing. I enjoyed having a safe and motivating environment to explore practical career directions while pursuing a passion.

Why did you decide to apply for the scheme? 

I’ve had a busy career over the past few years, alongside having two young children. Before writing freelance, I acted as a communications consultant for organisations working across humanitarian aid, different refugee crises, and social and climate justice issues.

When my son was six months old, I took unpaid maternity leave to support my family and found myself at a crossroads in my career. I realised that I probably wouldn’t be in that position again – I had the option to either go back into full-time work or have a go at freelance writing.

So, when the mentoring programme popped up and I read about Jane’s specialisms, I realised this might be an opportunity to explore my passion for food stories and whether this was a viable option for my career.

What did your mentoring involve?

I had an initial online call with Jane and her other mentees to discuss our career paths and goals. It was a really good opportunity to hear about other women’s personal experiences – and this helped me realise that I was on the right track to explore freelance writing alongside my work in communications consultancy. Then Jane and I had email conversations and one-to-one calls, which continued into monthly check-ins after the scheme had finished.

Have any specific insights stuck with you? 

I’ve learnt vital skills that I probably wouldn’t have known off my own back, such as pitching to publications. Jane’s reassurance that you don’t have to do everything perfectly straight away, but that you can put yourself out there and adjust afterwards, has been really helpful. When my first piece of food writing was published in Atlas Obscure, I let Jane know how she had impacted my decision to produce it.

Food has been the love language of my family and a lot of memories were made in the kitchen growing up. I’ve always thought, ‘Oh, could I write about this?’, but never had the confidence to put out something so personal. So, it was a bit surreal to see my piece published, and it felt like an accomplishment – being able to spend the time researching and writing about a personal interest was really empowering.

How has having a mentor positively impacted your career?

As a self-employed freelancer, you don’t always have a support network. I find that having a mentor helps with processing thoughts and decisions, and exploring what’s possible with realistic expectations, networking, and drive

Through the scheme, I gained the experience and confidence to reach out and speak with other writers, to understand more about freelance writing as well as relationships within the food industry and media. I was then able to gain other mentors and continue a collaborative journey that will support me throughout my career.

Applications for our Womentoring scheme 2024 are now officially open!

Jamie’s mentor, Jane Cook (BA 2008), also shared her experience of the Womentoring scheme.

If you’re a Cardiff alum keen to find, or become a mentor for a fellow graduate, our alumni networking platform Cardiff Connected helps you find the right match. It’s quick and easy to register, and you can filter by industry and location to search those offering or asking for help.

There are also lots of other ways you can volunteer your time and expertise to help inspire and support the next generation of Cardiff University students and alumni.