Mentoring Works matches students from Islington to volunteer business mentors, mainly from companies in the City of London.
Students travel to their mentors’ workplace after school for an hour a fortnight throughout the academic year. The main objectives are to increase their self-confidence, gain experience of the working world, improve their academic performance and raise aspirations.
Adriana Hardwick, Learning and development manager, at the securities arm of MUFG is involved in the mentoring programme and is matched with a student from Holloway School. She talks about her experience of being involved:
Having benefited from having and being a mentor in a work environment I understand how beneficial the relationships can be. I was keen to use my experiences in a different context and thought the schools mentoring programme would be perfect.
I must admit, I was a little apprehensive, especially as I hadn’t had much interaction with teenagers but wanted to step out of my comfort zone as I thought it would be really interesting. The training, which reminded us to make sure the sessions were fun, especially after a hard day at school, meant I felt well prepared.
I remember how difficult I found it to talk to adults when I was younger, so learning that my mentee wanted help building her confidence with this is really touching.
To get things started, I was able to use one of the icebreakers from the mentor pack to get us to share stories about our families, without it feeling like I was firing lots of questions at her. It quickly made me realise how important it was to build a meaningful rapport and treat her as an individual, not like a child.
This has helped make sure she feels comfortable talking to me, so we can have really honest and open conversations about what she wants to get out of the sessions. It’s been an unexpected bonus to learn that we both share a love of sci-fi and fantasy films!
My pupil has very high career aspirations, but is torn between two different career choices, in very different fields. I have been helping her to research them so she understands the qualifications required for both and understands the routes open to her. We have also worked on two different CVs to help her understand how to highlight different skills depending on the job being applied for.
Having had a broad career with a breadth of experience I have been able to reassure her that it is ok not to know exactly what it is you want to do. It's about weighing up all the options and doing everything you can to give yourself the knowledge and confidence to make the decision when the time is right.
Whilst I was confident that I had the skills to help, I wasn’t prepared for the impact it would have on me. Perhaps most importantly it has really made me realise that, whatever age, we all face challenges and have to make important decision that influence who we are, especially at school when we are thinking about out future.