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My Womentoring experience – Natalie Atkinson (BSc 2018)

29 May 2024

Natalie graduated from Cardiff University in 2018 with a degree in Human Geography and secured a place as a Graduate Town Planner on a competitive graduate scheme, with help from the University’s careers support service. Whilst on the graduate scheme Natalie completed a part-time master’s in Urban Planning before going on to gain her RTPI professional accreditation in December 2021. Whilst she enjoyed her role in planning consultancy and learnt a huge amount, she decided it wasn’t what she wanted to do forever. Natalie subsequently moved to work for YTL Developments (UK) Ltd. who are redeveloping an old airfield into a thriving new neighbourhood. Natalie has worked at YTL for the last two and a half years and is lucky enough to say that she truly loves her job (most of the time!).

Natalie took part in our 2024 Womentoring scheme which saw 24 mentors and 60 mentees matched. She was paired with Joanna Dougherty (BScEcon 2017) Global Operations Director of Client Experience at JLL and shares her experiences of being a mentee in the programme.

What was your experience of the Womentoring scheme?

My experience was very positive, and my mentor was lovely – we clicked straight away. It was great to have a few allocated sessions to discuss ideas and challenges confidentially. Doing this with someone independent, who had no links to my place of work, meant I could use the sessions to focus purely on personal growth rather than having to consider how certain decisions may affect a business. I also came away feeling that my thoughts and experiences in my career to date were totally normal and valid.

Why did you decide to apply for the scheme?

I have been in involved in several long-term industry-specific mentoring schemes but wanted the opportunity to do something a bit different. I knew speaking to someone in another industry would give me a different perspective. I also love meeting new people and learning what has shaped their career and how they got to where they are. There is always something to learn from speaking and listening to other people.

What did your mentoring involve?

I had several online meetings with my mentor. We got to know each other a bit initially and then discussed a range of topics such as imposter syndrome, presentation skills and having presence in a room.

Have any specific insights stuck with you?

Sometimes you may feel that you’re the only one facing a certain issue, but no matter what industry you work in, people seem to experience the same challenges – you’re never alone!

How has having a mentor positively impacted your career?

Despite Womentoring being a short programme, it provided a great opportunity for reflection, and the chance to bounce ideas off an unbiased, supportive mentor. It was also hugely beneficial to hear my mentor’s experiences and how she has overcome certain issues in the past.

What would you say to a fellow alumna considering signing up for Womentoring next year?

Do it – there is always something to learn! This scheme provides the opportunity to carve out time for personal reflection and development, which we can often forget when juggling a busy career.

Natalie’s mentor, Joanna Dougherty (BScEcon 2017), 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.