What is the mentoring programme all about?
BCU’s Professional Mentoring Programme brings together mentors from a wide range of sectors in order to provide insight and support to students and recent graduates.
The 10-week programme involves a minimum of five hours of one-to-one sessions between mentor and mentee, helping the latter to develop their employability skills, increase their confidence and prepare them for the professional working environment.
We spoke to Sanina Kaur, Director of copywriting and digital marketing agency SK Copy Co, and Alston Owens, a management consultant for healthcare management company GBP Consults, about their experiences of mentoring for students.
Key support at crucial times
Both Sanina and Alston wanted to get involved with professional mentoring due to the support and assistance they were given during their formative years.
“I’ve been supported by many professional and personal mentors that have guided me,” Alston says. “I was also supported when I graduated from BCU with a professional mentor. Their advice and support was invaluable and I felt compelled to support the programme.”
Sanina believes that being supported by more experienced colleagues helped her get to where she is today.
“I’ve always been keen to develop my skills and progress,” she says. “I took part in training and learned from my peers. I wouldn’t have progressed as much as I did without the support I received from my colleagues.”
An exciting and rewarding journey
Professional mentoring offers people the chance to go on an exciting and mutually beneficial journey with their mentee, something Sanina discovered as she assisted her mentee with finding a graduate job.
“We worked together on identifying the avenues for getting into publishing and how best to approach them,” Sanina explains. “We talked through job applications, and spent time perfecting her covering letter and personal key messaging.
“Before I knew it, my mentee had secured work experience, developed more self-belief and lined up some paid work. She put everything into our time together and the results she achieved speak for themselves.”
Alston used their sessions to offer sage advice to their mentee.
“Not every graduate job will be for you,” Alston says. “Reflect on what you want from a career besides the remuneration.”
The importance of diversity
When it comes to mentoring for students, it’s valuable that the mentors come from a wide variety of backgrounds and can understand the challenges and uncertainties that their mentees face.
“It’s extremely important, especially when it comes to making sure mentees are paired with professionals, who aren’t just from their desired profession, but have some understanding of their journey,” Sanina says.
Alston feels that the broader the experience and the more varied the background, the better it is for the mentee.
“Diversity offers new ideas and innovation, and also enables the stereotype of a certain role – an engineer, an investment banker, etc – to be dismantled.
“It’s important to show to mentees that there is a place at the table for everybody.”
Valuable insight and support
Sanina believes that the mentoring scheme is a wonderful opportunity for students to gain valuable insight that they can take under their belts.
“The more you put into the experience, the more you are likely to get out of it,” Sanina says. “Mentors can answer your questions and advise you, but how you act upon that information is up to you.”
Alston also feels that having a mentor can sometimes be the big difference between success and failure.
“Not many people make it to the top by themselves,” Alston advises. “If you have an opportunity to seek out a professional mentor, one that can share their experiences, pitfalls and suggest a better path, then that can only be a good thing.”