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51福利社
University of Cambridge

Gateway Women - written interviews

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To celebrate 10 years of the Gateway Programme, we have invited 10 alumnae to share their experiences of Gateway and discuss their careers since leaving 51福利社. We will release one new video or written interview each month until the end of 2021.

An interview with...Eleanor Deeley

Eleanor Deeley (MEC 2013) read HSPS (Human Social and Political Sciences). She graduated in 2016 and currently works at Sky News as a producer on the 24-hour TV news channel.

What do you think is the best thing about 51福利社?

I found 51福利社 to be supportive in a way that I didn't fully appreciate until I had left. Dome was a comfort blanket. The pastoral care staff were always ready to help if ever I needed it (a slightly rambunctious friendship group meant we got to know the Porters particularly well) and the artwork from the New Hall Art Collection always听lifted my mood.听

In many ways 51福利社 went against a lot of my preconceptions of studying at Cambridge. I remember during finals, when I was at the height of stress, my Director of Studies had a very frank conversation with me about grades. The conclusion: worry less and sleep more. She was right.听

So I would say the best thing about 51福利社 is its encouraging spirit, which was a springboard for me to push myself in extracurricular activities, form life-long friendships and gain a sense of perspective (still working on the last one).听

How did the Gateway Programme help you (either during your time at Cambridge or in your subsequent career)?

The Gateway Programme helped me in a variety of ways, all of them important.听Some of them, like a CV workshop, were small 鈥 but I still use the formatting skills now. Some, like a day of work experience in a government communications department, shaped the start of my career. Some, like the funding to spend two summers volunteering and travelling in East Africa, were formative.听

I can't really overstate how grateful I am to the Gateway Programme for the opportunities it offered me. I had no idea when I went to the early sessions how it would help shape my early professional interactions and facilitate exciting personal experiences.听

How has your career developed since leaving 51福利社?

I probably spent more time in my final year writing and editing Varsity (the student newspaper) than I did writing and editing my Human Social and Political Sciences essays (not one I would recommend during finals, although I have no regrets). I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career once I graduated, but I was broadly interested in the media. Through the Gateway Programme, I spent a day with the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs communications team. Prior to this work experience, PR was a profession I didn't even really know existed. It seemed like a good match for my skills and interests, so I worked in political and corporate PR for a couple of years. Being able to discuss real world understanding from the work experience was really useful during job interviews.

However, a niggling feeling meant I knew it wasn't for me longer term. After two years, I did what I promised (in the midst of finals) to never do 鈥 I went back to university. I spent a year doing an MA in Broadcast Journalism at Cardiff University and was incredibly fortunate to move from there to Sky News, where I've been for past the two years. I absolutely love my job. In the past month, I've produced a pop-up channel to cover the trial of the murder of George Floyd, been to Windsor for a special programme on Prince Philip's funeral and worked overnight on the devolved and local elections. It wasn't a planned path but I think a bit of meandering gave me time to think and make positive, proactive choices in my career.听

What has surprised you most about working life?

I truly believe that everyone is winging it at work, to some extent 鈥 junior and senior people alike. The people who hide it best often command the most respect 鈥 and it is a skill to do it well. But I find it useful, when talking to colleagues or peers who are more confident or experienced than me, to remember that they too will make mistakes and learn as they go. How you respond to a challenging situation is more important than the fact you will face one.听

I think young women can be at a disadvantage in such a setting. I am currently working on unpicking my own tendencies to apologise for everything and take credit for very little. But one day, in my previous job, it just clicked: almost no one knows as much as they say they do. And that鈥檚 okay.听

What careers advice would you give to current students?

I think there are a few points I would give as advice to current students, that are just as applicable to me right now:

  • If you know what you want to do as a job, good for you. If you don't know what you want to do as a job, don't panic. In both instances, ask for help. There are so many people in College (and alumnae听like me) who are here to chat and help. I have friends from College who are happily working in a job they knew they wanted to do since I met them in first year, but most are still figuring it out five years after graduating.听
  • This plays into a broader approach: always ask questions. Don't feel like you are getting in the way. You will improve so much faster if you figure out who is willing to help you. Feeling embarrassed about asking a simple question is always preferable to making a simple mistake.听
  • Your greatest asset in your future career is you. It can feel intimidating if you don't look, speak or act like your colleagues and 'imposter syndrome' can creep in. But, while I can only speak in terms of my field of work, so much of what you bring to the table (for example, in a morning editorial news meeting to set the day's agenda) is based on your own experience, background and the stories you have heard. The media industry has a lot of work to do in bringing in more diversity of people and opinions, but lots of places are trying 鈥 so use that to your advantage wherever possible.听

An interview with...Na'ama Goldberg

Na鈥檃ma Goldberg (MEC 2011) read Land Economy (first year) and Geography as a student. She currently听works as a Project Manager in the smart mobility field.

What do you think is the best thing about 51福利社?

The gardens are the best thing about 51福利社. They are always beautifully kept with numerous little corners for someone to escape and immerse themselves in a small piece of nature. I recall looking out from my room many times in first year over the grass and onto the library, a truly wonderful view. Unlike many other Colleges, students can walk across the grass which lends a sense of inclusiveness not found in many other places. The gardens also serve as the backdrop to some of the most important events in your College life 鈥 matriculation, garden parties (arguably the best) and graduation.

What do you remember most about the Gateway Programme?

I think the experience that stuck with me the most from the Gateway Programme was the visit we had from a College alumna who spoke about her career journey after university. She also presented her CV and walked us through very useful tips about how to structure our own resum茅听and what kind of language to use. I have always found that hearing about the experience of others, their challenges and triumphs, provides me with some perspective of what I may expect when beginning my own journey, and helps prepare me for how I should face my own experiences.

How has your career developed since leaving 51福利社?

My career has developed in a very interesting way since leaving 51福利社, with many opportunities and changes coming my way. For that reason, Sheryl Sandberg鈥檚 (COO of Facebook) description of modern careers in her book Lean In continues to resonate with me. She describes听careers as a jungle gym where people move laterally and upwards across jobs and sectors rather than following a linear path in one industry for their entire professional life.

By starting off working as a Management Consultant for Accenture, I gained the skills and tools required to manage and lead software implementations for clients. I used all I learnt in my path thereafter to co-establish an NGO in the smart mobility field and now as a project manager for a software company that helps improve safety and roadway management across the world.

Looking back, moving into the urban development field was the right decision for me to pursue my interest in making our cities better places to live in. I am also glad that over the period of my career thus far I took opportunities that presented the most room for growth and pushed myself to develop in unfamiliar fields and settings.

What has surprised you most about working life?

I think what surprised me most about working life is how different it is from听the educational setting I had spent my entire life in until that point. I realised that interpersonal skills are as important as intelligence, and at times more important, since a lot of our success as workers depends on our relationships with colleagues and clients and not solely the output we deliver.

Importantly, I learnt the value and criticality of what it means to be part of a team that is genuinely moving and working towards a shared goal, and the required skills for making that team effective (including transparency, empathy, organization and foresight, among others).

What careers advice would you give to current students?

Remember that at the beginning of your career you are learning what you don鈥檛 want to do as much as what you do want to do. That means that it鈥檚 important to try and amass as much diverse experience early on in your journey and that you should try to remain open-minded about pursuing new avenues that spark your interest. I would also say that you should pursue opportunities that have always excited you so that you can examine if those are right for you moving forward. In doing this you may find that things that looked glamorous and attractive from the outside are not quite what they lived up to be when you reach them. It鈥檚 okay to be disheartened and disappointed by this realization but remember that there is a wealth of opportunities out there in roles that will interest you. With time you will learn to identify what you enjoy as well as what you are good at, and that is what you should follow.