“The dream team to watch”

How mentoring can inspire our students beyond words

Talking with Dr Claudia Stanley and Natalie Lu, we get the impression their mentoring pairing went exceptionally well.

Natalie beams from ear to ear when talking about her mentor and Claudia gushes with pride when talking about her mentee.

The mentoring programme sees students paired with a mentor over six months to gain an insight into the industry. With Claudia offering work experience on top of the four checkpoint sessions, Natalie was lucky enough to gain a hands on view of the industry, alongside knowledge and insight from her mentor.

Dr Claudia Stanley and Natalie Lu
Natalie Lu and Dr Claudia Stanley

The work experience was an adventure to begin with, with Natalie having to travel to have her face mask fitted officially before entering the dentistry clinics. COVID-19 had delayed her opportunity to have work experience within the programme but Claudia was able to secure this shortly afterwards. COVID-safe measures were adhered to throughout the experience to ensure safety for the team and the patients.

Claudia managed to secure experience for Natalie in a dental practice for children and adults with special needs (thanks to the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust), as well as the practice that she herself works in. Claudia’s 30 years’ experience greatly inspired Natalie, and she said that Claudia and her dental nurses were “the dream team to watch”.

Natalie practised mouth moulds, denture refits and observed procedures whilst also learning about the challenging day-to-day tasks like patient consent, impact of drug abuse on teeth and how to deal with a variety of customers. Natalie is now able to put this experience into her applications for her dentistry degree in September 2023 having completed her biomedical pre-dentistry studies.

“What I learnt on this experience was invaluable, it made me more confident and motivated. The experience was really inspiring and seeing the reality of life in a dental setting reaffirmed my passion for my chosen career.”

Natalie Lu
Natalie Lu and Dr Claudia Stanley
Natalie Lu and Dr Claudia Stanley

Claudia said: “Natalie is a ‘do-er’, she is so independent and her confidence has grown so much through this. You can really see her passion in her work. I wish Natalie all the luck in her future degree and I have no doubt that she will excel at being a fantastic dentist.”

Natalie and Claudia are both very similar in that they are dedicated, driven and passionate about their careers. They hadn’t met before the mentoring programme last year and now have successfully completed both the programme and a five-day work experience together.

Annette Goddard, Student Engagement Officer in the University Careers Service, said: “Mentors like Claudia really support our students in giving them advice and guidance that they wouldn’t necessarily get from their degree and, by offering a shadowing on top of this, the learning is really cemented. Natalie was very lucky to have this opportunity and we thank Claudia and her practice for allowing this to happen.”

If you want to join the University’s mentoring programme do take a look at our mentoring opportunities webpage for details of all our programmes that we run. We are currently accepting applications for strand two for both mentors and mentees. Or feel free to email the mentoring team at mentoring.careers@plymouth.ac.uk or connect on LinkedIn.

Professional Mentoring Programme

The programme matches students with a professional mentor – individuals from industry, alumni, non-alumni, staff members – all giving their time and knowledge to support students both undergraduate and postgraduate at the University.
Students and Mentors work together over six months with four contact points. These contact points can be face to face, telephone calls, email conversations or via an online platform such as Skype or Microsoft Teams.
Find out more about the Careers Mentoring Programme.
Mentoring celebration 2019