Three things I’ve learned from mentoring so far

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As you may know, this year I’m mentoring an A level student who is on the Career Ready programme and helping to prepare her for the world of work.

As we’ve just passed the halfway point of the year, I thought it would be a good time to review the journey so far.

The first thing to say is that it’s an incredibly rewarding experience. The aim of the programme is increase my mentee’s confidence, skills and networks. I hope that I’m helping her to achieve these things but I know that I’m seeing those changes in myself.

I’m also struck by how competitive the world for young people is nowadays. My mentee has already achieved so much more than I ever had at her age but she knows that by taking part in programmes like the one she’s following, she’s doing what she has to do to stand out in a crowded crowd.

My mentee’s self-confessed lack of confidence and insecurities mirror my own at her age, but there are marked differences in other areas. Perhaps the most noticeable is around communication. In a professional context, email is my default means of communication. I very rarely use text in my working day and only ever with clients I’ve worked with for a long time and feel I have a personal as well as professional connection with. My mentee is completely different. Text is her default means of communication with me and she’ll even reply to my emails by text. I think this is an interesting difference in the generations and how communication changes. I find it a little strange, but then I replied to all my solicitor’s letter by email during my recent house purchase and I didn’t think twice about that, except to think my solicitor was a little old-fashioned, which I suppose my mentee must think about me.

As the summer holidays begin, my mentee will be undertaking two weeks’ of internships in London. I’m looking forward to discussing her experiences with her and finding out what she gains from them. My hope is that she’ll love her time in the working world and increase her own confidence in her undoubted abilities.

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