Guest post by Anna Lomas, Employabilty Consultant, The Careers Service
Having been manager of the Careers Service’s mentoring programme (Manchester Gold) for several years, I know first- hand how valuable a mentor can be. I was constantly surprised by just how generous our mentors were with their time, how genuine they were in their desire to help our students with their future ambitions and how approachable they could be.
I was also constantly surprised however that many of the students we had matched with a mentor didn’t really make the most of the opportunity. Some made initial contact and then didn’t maintain it; some never made any contact at all. It always seemed such a shame, knowing how much they could have gained if they had.
Reflecting on this, I think it was possibly for a number of reasons:
- Not knowing how to even start the conversation/not knowing what questions to ask
- Fear of coming across as stupid by asking questions the wrong questions
- Feeling that a mentor might not have the time to help
- Thinking that it is necessary to impress a mentor, so as not to jeopardise the chance of applying to their company in the future
- Generally feeling intimidated by the whole idea of having a mentor
I can assure you that none of these reasons should be a barrier to a successful mentoring partnership and here’s my top 5 reasons why you should apply for a mentor:
- They’ve been in your position
Most of the mentors we work with studied at Manchester, all will have completed a degree at some stage. You can even apply for a mentor who studied the same degree as you, if you want. They understand the issues facing students when planning their life after Uni and can share their own experiences of how they made the transition.
- They’re offering their help
All our mentors are volunteers. They don’t get paid or rewarded by the University – they simply want to give something back and support the next generation of graduates. They’re ready and waiting to help you.
- They’re not going to judge you
They are not your parents. They are not tutors. They are not your housemates or coursemates. They can offer an impartial perspective and a free space to discuss your plans and ambitions, without peer pressure/parental pressure etc
- They’ve got friends and colleagues
Even if you can’t find your perfect mentor match, think about the networks they might have. They will have colleagues and friends whose experiences they can draw upon to help you with your decision making and research.
- You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain
Whether you know what you want to do or you have no idea, whether you want advice on working in a particular sector/organisation or just need someone to discuss your options with, consider applying for a mentor via Manchester Gold. Applications are now open.
Good luck, Anna
Want to find out more about mentoring from a student’s perspective? Read former mentee Judith’s blog post.
Applications for Manchester Gold mentoring close on
Student Engagement Consultant at The University of Manchester. Manage marketing and communications for The Careers Service.