Stefano's story: Euromonitor International volunteer shares experience of mentoring student from Samuel Rhodes Special Educational Needs School

Stefano's story: Euromonitor International volunteer shares experience of mentoring student from Samuel Rhodes Special Educational Needs School

Published on: 
Thursday, 17 May 2018

Last year Euromonitor International’s London office reached out to BIG Alliance and Inspire! to establish an employability mentoring programme with Samuel Rhodes Special Educational Needs (SEN) School in Islington.

Working closely with the school, BIG Alliance and Inspire! collaborated to bring structure, resources and set objectives to the programme and make it more impactful.

Running for 10 weeks with 7 mentors and 8 students with Moderate Learning Difficulties, the programme started in early 2018 and ended before Easter break. With the bespoke programme designed by both charities, business volunteers were able to support the students through a crucial, and challenging, phase of their lives. It has been reported that the programme introduced young people to the world of work, raised their aspirations and develop skills for learning and preparing for adulthood. Teachers and students themselves confirmed that the programme helped them increase employability through the development of seven key ready-for-work competencies – adaptability, business awareness, communication, confidence, drive and motivation, resilience and self-awareness.

Returning mentor, Stefano, noticed a positive difference that the structure and materials brought to his second year as a mentor. We asked him for his take on the programme and what it meant to him:

1) Why did you decide to participate in the Mentoring Works programme?

I decided to participate to this programme for few reasons. The opportunity to help and give back to the society to feel even more part of it is definitely the main reason. Also, I felt that this programme had a precise objective and I could provide help based on my professional experience. The final reason was the opportunity to work with young people and have a small impact on their lives while having fun and building a personal relationship.

2) What are your thoughts on the programme? What is the most enjoyable part?

The programme is really well structured with a clear objective and material to cover in each session. The most enjoyable part is definitely meeting the mentees and spending time with them. What is truly enjoyable is seeing them learning what we covered during the sessions and becoming more confident and open.

3) Would you recommend mentoring to others and, if so, why?

I would definitely recommend others to join the mentoring programme. It is really well organized and the atmosphere is great. It is made simple for business volunteers to take part. It is fun and extremely rewarding.

4) What did you gain from taking part in the scheme? How did it help you with your day-to-day job, if at all?

Taking part in the programme also had great benefits in my day-to-day job. First of all, I developed better communication skills. Especially at the beginning you need to gain your mentee’s trust by introducing yourself in the most appropriate way, explaining the objective of the programme and the different tasks – it was a great exercise to apply in my job and communication with internal/external stakeholders. Secondly, through the programme I had the chance to get to know more people within the company which helped to enlarge my network.

5) What progress did you see in your student? Have they developed any new skills? Have they changed their behavior?

Seeing the progress that mentees have in terms of confidence and knowledge is the most rewarding aspect of the programme. My student and I were able to create a great relationship and his confidence in talking to me about his concerns of the professional world increased constantly. I then had the opportunity to give more tailored suggestions and work on the specific aspects where he felt less confident. After two years of mentoring the same student, I am extremely happy to see how much he learnt about how to approach interviews and behave in a work environment. I am sure he is now ready to enter the world of work successfully!

Euromonitor International have also written a blog about their mentoring experience which you can read here.

For more information about BIG Alliance's mentoring programme, please contact Karolina Szostak karolina.szostak@thebigalliance.org.uk