How IHAV supported me from mentee and grad, to intern, to employee.

By Angelie Balalingam

2 May 2022

Angelie

Half way through reading Philosophy, Politics and Economics at university, I suddenly realised that I had no clue about what I wanted to do post graduation, let alone how I would get there.

I knew that out of the three disciplines I was studying, I enjoyed studying politics the most, but just had no clue about what roles where out there for me and how I could enter the industry.

I don't come from a family with a political background, and I was the first to have even pursued a degree in humanities so I was left feeling lost, unsure of what my next steps ought to have been. To work around this, I signed up to the university careers services and attended any sessions that sounded remotely interesting and useful. Whilst they helped me to narrow down my interests, and hearing anecdotes from part students were inspiring, I was still unsure about how I could break into the policy world outside of say the civil service scheme.

As if by chance, an email came through from my careers advisor about an event that Rebecca and IHAV were hosting with PCRAs Next Gen group. Alongside the event, there was also a chance to be a part of the IHAV mentoring scheme.

Prior to Rebecca's email I had never even heard about public affairs or the opportunities it presented, and the scheme seemed like the perfect environment for a deep dive into all things policy and PA .

Having applied out of curiosity, I was fortunate enough to have been accepted onto the programme and was then immersed into sessions that spanned from application and interview techniques, to tips on how to build my network. The sessions not only provided practical help, but helped to clarify my next steps and also connected me to mentors that I continue to lean on as I progress in my career.

Following the scheme I endeavored to keep in touch with all things IHAV and in doing so I was able to secure an internship in health policy (at the NHS Confederation) quite soon after I graduated. Using the advice from the sessions I was fortunate enough to move from a 6 week internship into a permanent role in the organisation and have since been immersed in the policy world of healthcare.

Working from policy to comms and public affairs, I continue to connect with senior leaders and gain new skills and experiences in my role, but always with an awareness that the IHAV mentorship scheme helped to provide me with the confidence and skills that have seen me through to now.

One of the most invaluable lessons that I received from the IHAV mentoring scheme that I continue to use in the workplace is on the importance of networking. The ability to connect with new people and maintain those relationships has been crucial to master in my current role. Being a part of a membership organisation, a lot of my work revolves around building relationships with stakeholders and with staff across the country. The pandemic makes that slightly more difficult, with the majority of us working from home and the lack of in person interactions, but I was able to inadvertently prepare for this within the mentoring programme and I continue to see benefits from the connections I have made within the last 6 months. It is not only helpful for your professional development, but it can also make your day to day tasks a lot easier if you have links across the organisation.