Have you ever thought about what mentorship can offer you? Or do you often wonder if the knowledge and experience you’ve accumulated over the years can help have an impact on someone who’s right at the beginning of their career?
I didn’t until very recently.
Earlier this year I decided to take a leap outside of my comfort zone and challenged myself to become an Amos Bursary Mentor, where I have been providing professional and peer support to a bright and impressive young woman since March.
Amos Bursary is one of Sullivan and Stanley’s long-standing corporate partners whose mission is to help students from African and Caribbean backgrounds to excel at higher education. Their work is very well aligned to our own orange vision of Inspiring the Future of Work so the partnership naturally started to flourish.
Over the course of a little more than nine months, my relationship with my mentee has shown me the importance of vulnerability and taught me that sometimes being a role model isn’t about demonstrating your achievements, but about demonstrating that you may have gotten it wrong – and that that’s okay.
I am learning the true significance of my responsibilities as a Mentor.
Mentorship is a non-judgmental 1-2-1 relationship, and just like any other, it is built on trust. One of the ways I was able to gain my mentee’s trust was by showing her an unwavering commitment – i.e. protecting the time we have in the diary and letting her know it is important to me.
It is also about respecting her boundaries – giving her the space she needs and regrouping when she feels ready. Both are incredibly important to build the foundation layer of the relationship and establish clear guidelines of the mutual value exchange between the two.
However, there is one thing that has had the biggest impact and that has been changing the lens of my own perception of what a Mentor should be – letting go of the idea that my role is that of someone who always gets it right, and being comfortable with that vulnerability has been the most challenging aspect of this experience. After all, I wanted her to look up to me so why would she want to learn from someone who she knew had made mistakes?
Yet, the more I shared about my own experiences, the more she opened up about some of the major life choices ahead of her like. university, career, school, friendships, and more.
All it took was for me to realise that our relationship was not centred around hierarchical authority. It’s much more like a big sister act – sharing experiences and helping someone navigate the challenges of life, like a dependable elder sibling who’s been there before.
It’s a responsibility that goes beyond scheduled meetings and requires a genuine investment in someone’s growth. Recognising that someone is relying on you and trusting you to be there for them is what underscores this role for me, because once you build that relationship, it will permeate into other aspects of your life – it will inspire you to keep showing up as your best self.
Through S&S’s relationship with the Amos Bursary I have witnessed a fraction of the incredible potential and talent it cultivates – amongst their alumni there are doctors, Formula 1 engineers, writers, lawyers, and many, many more accomplished young professionals.
So, to get a chance to work with some of the brightest young people in the country… I mean isn’t that quite literally inspiring the future of work?
If you’re interested in hearing more about becoming a mentor please reach out to Sofia. Or find out more at https://www.amosbursary.org.uk/mentor-application/.