In this blog, Katie Johnson looks at mentoring and why having a mentor during degree study is so useful, in so many ways…
What is a mentor?
A mentor is someone who chooses to share their knowledge of a particular area (for example, experience in an industry or sector, or expertise in a subject or skill) with you - somebody who has less experience in that area. You take on the role of mentee to learn from your mentor - the mentor becomes your trusted adviser whose role is to encourage your growth and development.
What does a mentor do?
A mentor can help you develop your skills, make better-informed decisions, and gain new views on your life or career by helping you to identify your strengths to focus on, and potential areas to improve. As a mentee, your mentor will provide you with the guidance you need to focus on your goals, employability skills and confidence, whether you are just starting out or a career changer.
How do I get a mentor?
Our Mentoring at ARU programme is available every year, to students on ARU’s Cambridge, Chelmsford, and Peterborough campuses. The programme introduces students to professionals who volunteer their time to work 1-2-1 with an ARU student. Find out more about the Mentoring at ARU programme – applications are now open!
ARU student, Amaar Webb-Adjmul, BSc (Hons) Zoology, says “I think my goals and aspirations have not changed but become greater, as I have gone through the programme my eyes have opened”.
Networking & Contacts
A mentor can support you in so many ways, for example, improving networking skills and at times, providing introductions to useful contacts. ARU student, Lakhvinder Sadana - LLB (Hons) Law, was introduced to a qualified Solicitor who was able to help them build new skills and connections. Lakhvinder shared these thoughts with us about the Mentoring at ARU experience:
“Mentoring at ARU has made me more confident in pursuing my ambitions. I not only gained valuable knowledge through this programme but the ability to create lasting connections with professionals in the industry so that I can continue to expand my knowledge in the future!”
Another important way a mentor can help, is to provide you with impartial advice regarding your career options. Recent Civil Engineering graduate, Lauretta Nabawanda, took part in our most recent cycle of the Mentoring at ARU programme. Lauretta was matched with a qualified Senior Engineer as a mentor, and shared this perspective with us: “As students, many times when seeking career advice, we are prompted to look to relatives or friends... That is not necessarily a bad thing, but their advice could have bias depending on what they know about you; if they are a friend or family member, they might be gentler instead of realistic. On the other hand, advice from a mentor is very likely to be unbiased as they do not know your personal story and so guidance is based on their real-life career experience.”
You can read more about Lauretta’s mentoring experience here.
Many of us suffer from imposter syndrome; thoughts about not being good enough and feelings of self-doubt. A mentor works with you to help overcome this and will encourage you to discover the self-confidence you need to try, and then succeed. Efua Taylor - MSc Engineering Management, shared her Mentoring at ARU story with us: “There’s something called imposter syndrome; I thought why would they pick me? My mentor played a pivotal role in coaching me to secure a place on a graduate scheme. I recommend other students to apply to this programme.”
Questions? Please contact Katie Johnson (nee Smith), Employability & Careers Adviser – Mentoring and Activators at [email protected].
Our Employability Service works with students throughout their time at ARU and after they graduate. The Service offers careers advice, online resources, and help with job searches, applications and interview preparation. Our Employability & Careers Advisers may mention some of these resources and services in their blogs, to give you an idea of the careers support that's on offer at ARU. Some of these resources sit behind a log in and can only be accessed by current students.