Over the last year, our Chief Operating Officer, Omar Akram, has been working with a UK-based charity called Career Ready as a mentor. The mentoring programme at Career Ready assigns a volunteer from the world of work to assist a student aged 14-18 with the relevant skills and support in the run up to stepping foot on the career ladder for the first time.
As part of the programme, every month or so, each mentor meets with their assigned student for an hour. During the sessions, the mentor helps the student with discovering different career options, development of their professional skills, and also assisting them with building and establishing their future careers.
Students and their mentors reflect on their progress mapped against the ‘Skills for Career Success’ learning outcomes, as provided by Career Ready, including: communications and networking, organisational skills, managing myself, and problem solving and analysis.
The mentoring sessions are invaluable to these students, but are also highly beneficial for the mentors, with approximately 91% of mentors reporting that their coaching skills are just as good if not better by the end of the programme. The synergy between the students and mentors within the programme makes such a difference for both parties.
Omar took on the challenge to spread the knowledge and experience that he has gained throughout his career so far, with a student who is about to leave college and thus has begun embarking on their future career. We caught up with him to find out how he finds the programme and how it has affected the way that he will mentor in the future.
What prompted you to take on being a mentor at Career Ready?
Back in 2008, I mentored a young student on the same programme and I really enjoyed helping him with his personal development. Laura Berger an executive consultant in our London office reached out to Career Ready UK in October 2018 and agreed to partner with them – she then asked for mentoring volunteers and I was more than happy to commit.
Which topic(s) do you cover in your mentoring sessions?
With my student we covered CV presentation, interview preparation, time management, presentation skills & university applications and costs.
How often are your mentoring sessions?
Every 6-8 weeks
How have you found the process so far?
I have really enjoyed working with my student – he’s bright, but needs plenty of encouragement to get things done!
Can you tell us more about your student?
He’s bright and ambitious, but lacks the self-motivation at times to get things done/actioned. He needs plenty of encouragement and, at times, a few candid words!
What does your student hope to gain from these mentoring sessions?
He wanted guidance, feedback and support with life post-college.
Has being a mentor changed your perspective on how to train employees?
I suppose it has; younger and very inexperienced employees need more guidance and structure!
What advice would you give to people who are looking into becoming a mentor?
Be patient, remember that they are young and aim to work closely with the student’s Career Ready mentor
Proco Group aims to create positive outcomes for our community, actively encouraging employees to get involved with such an incredible cause like Career Ready where they can. Involvement with charities is mutually beneficial for our business, our employees, and most importantly the students that are being mentored.
By merely taking an hour out of your day every so often to help someone, or a group and organisation, propel themselves towards success, it really makes a difference. As the current student year is coming to a close, our employees are actively looking forward to taking part in the next year intake.