Mentoring Works – Students’ perspectives of remote mentoring
By Merossa Cofie, Project Manager, Mentoring Works
After launching our Sixth Form mentoring programme back in March, the impact of COVID-19 meant we had to adapt the model and students and mentors continued their relationships remotely, via telephone conference calls. As the programme draws to a close, we are giving the platform to three of our students to share a more in-depth overview of their mentoring experience including how they found building a relationship and communicating through telephone mentoring.
“I previously participated in the Mentoring Works programme in Year 10 and found it useful going into Year 11. It gave me a useful foundation of skills and I decided to do the programme again to build upon and fine-tune the skills I had learned.
In the start, I was slightly worried about how telephone mentoring would go because there wouldn’t be face to face contact. Surprisingly having mentoring sessions over the phone didn’t make it awkward at all, it felt completely normal and comfortable speaking to my mentor after the first session or so.
Over the course of my mentoring sessions, my mentor and I covered a range of topics including personal statements, dealing with stress within A-levels and super curricular activities. I have found the support with my personal statement particularly useful, as it can be quite overwhelming perfecting a first draft personal statement to become one that is ready to send off. Working with my mentor made this process a lot easier.
From having had a general, non-specific interest in Science I’ve been able to narrow my degree options and consolidate my plan after A-Level. Being able to explore different sectors and finding out where my interests lie helped me to decide on studying Pharmacology at University.
I’ve done mentoring in the past where it has not always been easy to connect with a mentor, but my mentor on the Mentoring Works programme is more understanding and easier to talk to, which is vital to fully utilise the mentorship opportunity. My mentor studied at the same Sixth Form as me and that allowed us to find a common ground and we were able to relate more about shared school experiences. Going through research papers with her allowed me to be introduced to the material I’ll be expected to work with at a higher academic level in the near future, which again shows how the mentorship programme prepares you with a solid foundation of knowledge for University. I’m glad to have been able to work with my mentor aiding me throughout my Sixth Form years as well as forming a network for the future. The experience has given me a range of skills I’m sure will prove invaluable in the next steps of my education and later career.”
– Year 13 mentee, Mossbourne Community Academy
“As I was mentoring with another student, our sessions were three-way calls. Although this was different to what I was used to and I had never done this in a professional setting, it helped me build my confidence to speak over the phone. I used to feel uncomfortable about silences which is less of an issue now.
During my time as a mentee on the Mentoring Works programme and with my mentor’s help, I was able to identify my weaknesses and struggles. In my case, my biggest weakness was centred around my confidence during interviews and face to face induction or training days. My mentor and I were able to address this key issue as well as various other topics such as; CV writing skills, job/ apprenticeship/university applications, confidence booster sessions, motivation, study tips as well as many more areas that we may have wanted to discuss.
The area of greatest development for me was addressing my self-confidence while in an interview. We were able to overcome this weaker area by discussing the steps that I may need to take pre-interview such as reviewing possible interview questions, how to use short intervals of silence to your advantage, how to make the most out of your interview experience and most importantly how I may improve for the next time that I am scheduled for an interview.
I would describe my mentor as an amazing female role-model that I now look up to and highly respect. She was able to help me in so many ways. During my time working with her, I was able to pass an interview stage that I had, developed my CV further for future applications and also attain more insight into the role/position that I want to achieve in the future. She has helped me achieve a sense of clarity in my future goals and aspirations and has motivated me to put in the dedication and hard work to hopefully be on the right track. Since the beginning of the Mentoring Works programme, I can confidently say that I was able to develop my mindset in a way that will benefit my future. I was challenged in a way that enabled me to really address my own thought process and positively change the way that I think of myself and my achievements so far”.
– Year 13 mentee, Clapton Girls’ Academy
“Through the mentoring programme I was paired with an engaging, flexible mentor who works in finance, an industry I wish to join, so our sessions were incredibly useful. Despite the current climate, we were able to have frequent sessions and build a strong rapport.
Some of the sessions included improving CV skills and support with my personal statement; I received invaluable advice from someone who has been through the process of applying to university and jobs within the finance industry, so my confidence in university applications and understanding of the many different routes to certain job sectors has vastly improved.
My favourite aspect of the mentoring programme was a Zoom session where mentees delivered a presentation about a current affairs topic to mentors and other mentees. This was particularly fun as I was pushed out of my comfort zone; delivering a speech to strangers about a topic I knew little to nothing about forced me to develop my confidence and oracy/presentation skills – something that will be extremely useful in the future”.
– Year 13 mentee, Mossbourne Community Academy
It is always great to hear from our students and their positive experiences on the programme. It has been a challenging year and students have really benefited from their sessions and having a mentor to talk to. Whether it is to narrow down their options or use them as a sounding board to think through their next steps in this changing landscape. Knowing that both parties have each had their own challenges in the past few months, we are proud of the commitment of our students and their mentors who have continuously worked hard to support their students. The next step is recognising the mentors and mentees achievements at our online celebration event in December – we look forward to seeing you there!
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