Alex Melia - Mountbatten Program

Alex Melia

Alex Melia

Alum Of The Month

Program: New York

Intake: September 2008

Current Role: Managing Director of Swoosh English, and Podcast Host at ‘Our Voices in the NHS’


Current Role: Managing Director of Swoosh English, and Podcast Host at ‘Our Voices in the NHS

What and where did you study before your Mountbatten internship?
I studied Business Studies at Lancaster University, where I achieved a 2:1 degree.

What made you apply for the Mountbatten Program?
It was always my ambition to live in New York, partly because I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps, who has lived out there since 1996. When I spoke to him about how I could realise this goal, he told me about the possibility of doing the Mountbatten Program. I had also heard very good things about the Program when talking to fellow students at Lancaster University.  Then there was the fact that, like a number of people, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do after I graduated, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to get some valuable work experience while having the experience of living overseas.

Describe your sponsor company and your role within it.
I worked as a real estate agent for Buchbinder & Warren, a small family run real estate business. I was operating in their Sales and Brokerage Department, which involved showing people around apartments we had for sale and creating ads for those apartments, as well as negotiating rental prices.  I also had to assist other experienced brokers within the department and report on property sales and rental progress during sales meetings.

What was the highlight/most memorable moment of your working experience during this year?
Well, I came to New York literally days after the beginning of the 2008 financial crash, so the experience was quite surreal from the start, but, aside from that, I couldn’t pick just one moment.  I’d say the general experience of getting to do both high and low-level tasks was invaluable.  As well as being involved in sales meetings and meeting high-profile individuals, I would also have to go on coffee runs and pick up my boss’s bags from time-to-time.  The sales skills I picked up have also proved to be extremely important in setting up my own company, Swoosh English.

What was the social highlight/most memorable moment during this year?
The chance to meet influential people and learn about their lives was a great opportunity.

Please share a little wisdom/philosophy that you acquired during your internship
The entire experience allowed me to improve my emotional intelligence, people-reading skills, and conflict resolution abilities.  So, I would say that if you want an experience that will help you mature and grow, then the best way to do that is to get out of your comfort zone and make the most of the opportunities that are presented to you during the year.

What happened after completing the year – what did you do next?
I continued my travels and taught English in Hong Kong in 2010.  I then went on to start Swoosh English, an online English teaching company, in 2013.

Where are you now in your working life and what do you do?
Most of my time is currently focused on running Swoosh, where I help international students, as well as non-native doctors and nurses to pass international English exams, such as the IELTS, OET and PTE Academic.  I’ve also spent a lot of time lately on being part of a team that creates the podcast “Our Voices”, which delves into the lives of medical professionals and highlights the highs and lows of their experiences during the global pandemic.  I would describe this as a real passion project for me. I love listening to podcasts and finding out about people’s stories, so being involved in making this has been extremely satisfying. We’re moving on to stories from older people and also stories of people’s mental health during the pandemic. If you or anyone you know would be interested in being interviewed, email me:

Do you have any future plans that you would like to realise & what are they (career & social)?
Well, talking about the podcast, I want to continue getting this out to a mainstream audience by sharing stories that people can relate to and can have a positive impact on those who are listening.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I survived on $9 for 5 days whilst on the program. I had blown all my stipend on a few big nights out in Manhattan and I remember sitting on the steps of Union Square wondering why I had no money but lived in one of the best cities in the world. I proceeded to eat kidney beans out of a can for lunch for 5 days straight. Weirdly, I ate them with brown sugar on to give them some sort of taste. Thankfully, my taste in food has improved over the years!

Is there any other information that you would like to be included?
Sure, some reasons to listen to the podcast: if you’re a lover of stories about other human beings then you need to check the podcast out.  You will be able to relate to the stories because they are fundamentally human stories. If I could liken it to anything you may know, I’d say it has similarities with the popular Instagram and social media page, Humans of New York – but in a short, podcast interview format. They are roughly 10 minutes each and therefore bite-sized, so they can be listened to at your convenience and enjoyed at any time throughout the day.  Have a listen here: