Shaping the leaders of tomorrow

A productive mentoring relationship between fourth year MD student Kevin Zeng and MMS alum Jay Gajera helped Kevin secure his ideal internship.

Doctor of Medicine alum Jay Gajera (MD 2014) (left) and MD student Kevin Zeng (right).

“Mentoring is like having a friend from the future who can tell you if your plans are going to be successful.”

At least, that’s how fourth year MD student Kevin Zeng (BBmed 2017), feels about his experience as a mentee in the MDHS Mentoring Program.

Kevin signed up to the MDHS Mentoring Program this year for a better understanding of how best to face his first year out of med school.

“The prospect of working as a junior doctor while undertaking a research project or studying for exams to get onto an advanced training program was a daunting idea to say the least.”

“I realised I needed to talk to someone with recent experience with the selection process who could give me a realistic idea of what I would need to achieve in the next few years and help me plan how and when I should ideally reach these goals.”

How mentoring helped Kevin achieve his goal

By accessing the perspective and career planning skills of his mentor, Kevin landed his ideal internship for 2022.

Kevin was matched with Doctor of Medicine alum Jay Gajera (MD 2014), one of 129 Melbourne Medical School alumni to sign up to mentor in 2021. After gaining experience in ICU in rural Queensland and working as an unaccredited general surgery registrar at the Alfred, Jay is now training to become a radiologist in Sydney.

He knows all too well the challenges of starting out in the medical industry.

“When I first started as an intern, I was very naive about what is required to succeed in the medical profession in Australia. Hard work alone is no longer sufficient – you need to be able to play the game, as they say,” he says.

“I felt the need to help those who may be faced with similar challenges on their own journey. As a student, I greatly benefited from having mentors and this invoked my desire to give back as an alum.”

Kevin credits Jay’s support and feedback as critical to securing his internship. In the lead up to Kevin’s interview, Jay conducted mock interviews and enabled Kevin to practise responding in the interview format, which helped alleviate anxiety and build confidence.

“Jay truly cared about helping me. His constructive criticism had the weight of someone who had previously been successful with application processes and elevated how I presented myself in my application, both on paper and in an interview,” said Kevin.

“The [MDHS Mentoring] Program gives you the rare opportunity to sit down with someone with more experience than you, to form a connection, and to guide you on how you can reach your goals.”

A win-win experience

Jay also believes that participating as a mentor has been beneficial for his own personal growth and skills development and notes that Kevin has inspired him to be more intentional about his own professional development.

“Kevin is diligent with his follow up and is proactive in seeking mentorship. I learnt that I too must be intentional in my approach to professional development, and this inspired me to reach out to my senior mentors, whom I had been out of touch with for a while.”

For Jay, mentoring is a two-way street that enables him to expand his own skills and reflective practices, as well as help shape the next generation of health professionals.

“Mentorship is a win-win reflective exchange of ideas where all parties involved benefit in their own professional development,” he says.

For students preparing to graduate, the transition from study to professional practice can be daunting. While classrooms and practical training prepare students for clinical settings, mentoring can help students build soft skills like networking, application and interview skills and connect them with industry professionals for one-on-one career conversations.

And as Jay mentions, the program can offer learning and development opportunities and deep satisfaction for mentors and students alike.

“The MDHS Mentoring Program is an opportunity for alumni to cultivate positive individual partnerships with students. It encourages professional growth, enhances innovation and problem solving, and can greatly impact the development of the mentee.”

“Mentors have the opportunity to learn from and help shape the leaders of tomorrow. Both students and mentors may further develop critical thinking, communication skills and emotional intelligence.”

“Finally, there is no value that can be placed on the intrinsic reward obtained from assisting someone in goal-setting and guiding them in their journey to overcome challenges.”

Sign up to mentor in 2022

The Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences launched the Faculty-wide mentoring program for final year students in 2020. This year, nearly 400 alumni have mentored students as part of the program, helping to transform the University experience for final year students and support them as they embark on their own career journeys.


Applications for the 2022 MDHS Mentoring Program will open in mid-January 2022. Find out more.