This month Maya, Rachel and Zara share with us their experiences of last year’s Catalyst Summit, how the mentoring programme has supported them and some of their goals for the future.


Tell us a bit about yourself:

“I’m 17, I live in Bristol, I am currently doing my A levels and I am going on to have a gap year in September. I enjoy dancing which I do twice a week with my company. We do contemporary along with a range of world styles. I also play classical guitar, in my spare time.” Maya

“I am 21. I am halfway through my Masters studying Social Research Methods and Applied Statistics at the University of Southampton. I live in Weymouth when I’m not at uni. Hobbies include travelling (back when we were allowed!), sewing, baking, reading, walking, canoeing and cooking.” Rachel

I am 20 years old from Warwickshire and am currently studying Geography at the University of Southampton. At the moment I’ve been occupying my time outside of working with practising lacrosse and taking an online course in map-making. I have always had a passion for culture and the environment and love learning new things about ecology, landscapes and sustainability. My two years so far at uni have opened my eyes a lot to the world around me and taught me a lot about the need for change in the world, which I am trying my best to participate in.  Zara

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What would your dream job be?

Something that enables me to create change in the world and that allows me to travel, in order to experience different places and people.  Maya

I would love to work as a social researcher, ideally looking into health for a charity. or doing some kind of gerontology research which is the study of older people.   Rachel

There are so many things I would love to do so it’s hard to pick just one dream job! At the moment though, I would love to work in water management and help in the development and logistical implementation of sustainable water resources, particularly in areas of previous political and socio-economic difficulty. Although, I have also always loved the idea of being a weather forecaster!  Zara


Why did you come on the Catalyst Summit and Mentoring programme?
“I am very interested in the environment and the physical and human impacts of climate change. I thought the programme would help me get an insight into possible jobs in the area. The fact that it was a programme for young women also attracted me to it.” Maya

“My friend Chloe at university shared her experience on Facebook as she had taken part before and I thought it looked really fun and interesting and something good to do whilst in lockdown.” Rachel

“I was recommended to join the programme by a 3rd-year geography student at my university. I looked into it some more and was very excited by the opportunity to learn so much from such empowering and inspirational women. I also thought the mentoring programme afterwards was a rare opportunity that I haven’t been offered before so couldn’t turn it down.”  Zara

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What was your overall experience of the Catalyst Summit?
It was useful learning about the skills needed to be able to help with change especially how to grow your confidence. Learning about how a greener world could be created was inspiring and made me feel more optimistic about the future. The woman that I worked with on the last day was inspirational in the way that she talked about diversity being a positive and important thing for productive teams.  Maya

I thought it was very interesting and well-organised, especially considering it was the first time the event was hosted online. I liked how it was spread over three weeks as it gave me something to look forward to. Rachel

I loved my entire time at the catalyse change summit, and plan on attending many more workshops and meetings with the catalyse group. I’ve met and connected with so many people with the same interests and beliefs as myself, and have also been able to hear from people with different opinions. I really enjoyed seeing how I can identify my strengths and passions to help me discover my purpose and things I can work towards, while still remaining self-assured and confident – something that many young women I know (including myself) struggle with.  Zara

What three things did you like about it most?

Learning about how to grow my confidence
Learning about how my skills could be useful in different job areas
Working with inspirational women

I liked chatting with new people, listen to how women have created great careers for themselves in sustainability and the mentoring part of the programme has been amazing and helped me clarify what I need to do in order to get a good grad job.

I would say my top 3 favourite parts of the experience would be meeting so many people and beginning to form a network of connections, learning about the different pathways I can take into careers – I found it so enlightening how many different routes and career journeys can get you where you want to be, and there isn’t just one set way. Finally, my favourite part was the help I received in being able to identify my own strength, and being encouraged to be proud of them and recognise the achievements I have made and the skills I have learnt. Zara

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Has it had any impact on your day-to-day behaviour? If Yes, can you give any examples?

I think it has contributed to my increased awareness of the environment, how it is changing, the impacts of this; and my enthusiasm in what I can individually do to help. I also feel like I try to be more confident in my day-to-day life and make the most of any opportunities that are given to me as a result of it.  Maya

I definitely buy sustainable things more now if I have the choice. Now I know that I would want to travel more sustainably once we are allowed. I also eat less meat now and hardly ever buy new things which is great.  Rachel

If you were recommending the Catalyst Summit to a friend, why would you tell them they should do it?

It is very inspiring to see the opportunities that are available in the area of environment and sustainability. Meeting other people that are concerned and passionate about the same things as you is also encouraging. Maya

I can’t think of a good reason not to! you meet great people, learn lots and have a fun time. Its also super low commitment and gives you something great to talk about.  Rachel

I would tell them, why not? It gives you the opportunity to meet so many like-minded people and learn so much about both creating sustainable change and becoming a successful and hard-working young woman. Zara

If you already have feedback on the mentoring, please include a sentence or two on your experience of mentoring and how it has helped you?

It was great getting to speak to someone that already has a career in the area that I would like to work in and getting insight into this. Her knowledge of many different companies and types of jobs enabled me to start thinking about what I might like to do in the future. She also helped me a lot with choosing a university course as I was really unsure of what I wanted to do.

I have had so much support from my mentor. I now have a checklist when looking for jobs and if the job doesn’t meet ⅘ requirements I do not apply for it as it is a waste of my time and wouldn’t be helping me get my dream career.

Thank you to Maya, Rachel & Zara for sharing your stories and such kind words about the Catalyst Summit.

Would you like to come on this year’s Catalyst Summit and mentoring programme?

For more information and to book. GO HERE