It’s National Mentoring Day 2018 – every year on October 27th, individuals and organisations from across the UK come together to raise awareness of mentoring and the positive effects that it brings! Throughout school, college and university, I’ve had various mentors and a vast range of different experiences, both positive and negative, so, I wanted to share some of my experiences and highlight how mentoring has benefitted me. I’m also an active mentor myself for The Diana Award and have mentored on other local and national programmes over the last few years, and I’ll be sharing my experiences of being a mentor to others too!
Aged fifteen, whilst I was in Y10 at school, I entered a regional enterprise competition where students from schools and colleges across Sheffield were given £25 to start up a business and those who were most successful over two schools terms, were awarded prizes for their enterprising efforts. It was when I first entered the competition where I met my first mentor, and, it was a fantastic experience! I loved hearing about my mentors expertise in business and his critical feedback during those early years of me running my business ultimately helped me to shape my company Harvey Morton Digital into what it is today – one of the highest rated providers of social media management in the UK. Most importantly, my first mentor believed in me and this really helped to boost my confidence more than you could ever imagine.
When I started secondary school, I went through years of bullying and I had really struggled to find something I was good at, often being put down both by other students and a few of my teachers, so my first mentor came into my life at a time when I was feeling quite lost, and, he helped to shape me into the person I am today. We quickly developed a great relationship and we’re still in touch over five years later. He told me exactly what I needed to do to grow and made me believe that anything was possible.
As I’ve moved through my career, I’ve had lots of mentors, and, the best ones are those who act as a friend and not a mentor – someone to share both frustrations and successes with. I’ve also had some negative experiences with mentors, as there have been many people who I just couldn’t connect with because they always placed themselves above me and made me feel inadequate. Worse still, some didn’t even listen and gave me bad advice!
It was these bad experiences that made me want to become a mentor myself and it’s nice to give back to young people who are in a similar position to what I was in when I started secondary school. My work with Youth Employment UK over the last three years has opened up lots of doors for me, and it’s allowed me to mentor young people on various programmes, both in Sheffield and beyond. Most recently, I joined The Diana Award mentoring scheme and worked with a group of 30 young people at a local school to boost their employability skills and confidence – I find mentoring so rewarding!
As I’ve been mentored regularly too, I knew I wanted to be a mentor that I know I’d have liked if I was at secondary school. I think it’s important for all mentors to share their knowledge and expertise, but also to ask the person(s) they are mentoring about their experiences too! It’s important to develop a personal relationship and empower the mentee to believe they can do anything they put their mind to. It’s also important for mentors to provide constructive feedback and guidance at all times, alongside this, it’s important to demonstrate enthusiasm at all times! After all, if you’re not enthusiastic about mentoring, the person you’re trying to guide won’t be enthusiastic about you either and the relationship will quickly break down.
I’m so lucky to have a fantastic network around me and my current mentors at university are outstanding! I hope that this blog about my mentoring experiences has been valuable to you. If you take anything away from this, remember mentoring has the power to change lives, so, whether you’re being mentored or you’re looking at becoming a mentor yourself, make sure you do everything you can to make your relationship a positive one!
Happy National Mentoring Day!