Fatimah Malik: My Circl Journey

Fatimah Malik
August 11, 2022

From graduating from the Circl programme in 2021 to now working alongside the Circl team as a Future Leaders Intern, it is fair to say that I have been on a great journey with Circl. What started as an opportunity to gain an understanding of coaching has now become a chance for me to personally experience how the Circl team works to give us Future Leaders the best time on the programme. And now I’ll be sharing all of this with you!

But, let me start by introducing myself! I’m Fatimah and I study English Literature at King’s College London. I’ll be graduating next year, a bit sad as my time at uni has flown by, but I’m planning to make the most of it! Some things I love are reading (I guess that’s a bit obvious since I literally study books lol - currently reading the Shadow and Bone series, it’s AMAZING), travelling, music ranging from my faves BTS to Taylor Swift and going out with my friends�.

I was actually introduced to the Circl programme by my older sister, who spoke extremely highly of it. She would practise some of the methods and coaching models on my mum and I would listen in and think it was both really interesting and engaging. She would ask questions like ‘What were the reasons for you feeling like this?’ or ‘What could you have done differently?’, and I remember my mum thinking carefully about her responses. These questions evoke answers that require self-reflection and push you to take responsibility for your feelings: this helps us grow as individuals and also as leaders! Such growth inspired my desire to get involved, to feel that sense of development that my sister had for myself.

My initial expectations of the programme were that I was going to learn how to become a mentor of some sort who provides guidance and essentially the answers to someone’s problems, but I was wrong! A coach is completely different and instead promotes responsibility and awareness within the person being coached, all the while encouraging them to reach the goals that they set for themselves. It is the person that you are coaching that has to find the answers for themselves, not you as the coach.  

I thought that I would be partnered with a company based on what I study and what I’m interested in, but I was paired with a video advertising company called Unruly. Chatting with different employees from Unruly in breakout rooms and hearing how they work was really interesting as it shed light on an area of expertise unknown to me. Either way though, it doesn’t matter which company you’re with on the programme: you’ll not only learn something new from a company you may not have known or been interested in, but you’ll still have that experience of learning and practising the coaching skills with employees, all of which can be applied to any area of your life :) 

Although I experienced speaking to new people online from my first year of uni, it wasn’t exactly the greatest way to make any connections or friends, and so I couldn’t help but feel a bit nervous when I heard about being put into breakout rooms. I mean, these were employees that were older and had way more professional experience than me. How could I connect with them?!

But as soon as the first breakout room began and we started to practice using the question of ‘What else?’, the nerves and stress plaguing my mind instantly evaporated. Everyone was so friendly and humble to speak to, and soon we were laughing in shock at how such a simple question could be so difficult to answer.  

My friendship with my Circl Match was another great bonus to my experience on the programme. It was scary how similar my match and I were! Her outgoing, confident, and understanding personality immediately put me at ease and encouraged me to open up to her. I was initially worried about whether I would be able to have an impact on her because she was one of the managers at Unruly. However, she not only intently listened and answered the questions I asked her, but she welcomed any suggestions I had in helping her reach her goal. Sharing the same vibe and humour also made practising the coaching skills with her so much easier and more enjoyable! 

One of the goals that my Circl Match helped me work towards was trying to pass my first year of University. I know that it may seem like a typical goal to reach but let’s just say I received a few results in my mid-term assessments that I wasn’t too happy about! Using the TGROW model, my Circl Match helped me set out a number to achieve in terms of marks and a date to have each essay submitted. Completing four essays due all in the same week was hard, but having my Circl Match’s prompts and my goals set out for me to complete made it all the less stressful 😊

Overall, the biggest takeaway I got from the programme was not just brilliant coaching skills, but also a deeper understanding of myself and others. I learned, for example, just how terrible of a listener I was when we covered the topic of Active Listening, and how observing someone’s body language or tone of voice can help you understand someone better. If you are thinking about applying, expect a lot of brilliant content for you to use in your everyday life (both professional and personal), entertaining conversations with your Circl Match and other employees, and opportunities for self-reflection! 

I hope you feel a similar impact from the programme as I have :) If you have any questions, feel free to email us here: circl@circl.org and we'll be more than happy to help!