Why I’m a volunteer mentor
For this year's Volunteers Week (1st-7th June), guest contributor Tochi shares his experience of being a volunteer mentor. He volunteers at Brunel University through the National Mentoring Consortium scheme, a process whereby ethnic minority undergraduates are linked with professionals to gain support and experience to prepare them for entry into the world of work.
Why did you become a mentor?
When I was young and contemplating entering the world of work, I found the process to be very difficult and there was not a lot of guidance to assist with navigating the complexities of it all. Not having come from a background of particular privilege, I had to figure it out on my own. However I found that I was able to survive and thrive, in large part due to the help and generosity of managers, peers, etc who mentored me and shared knowledge, experience and other skills with me. I am truly grateful for the help they gave to me and I believe that I have a duty to pass on the help I received to others.
What are you most proud of?
The biggest achievement so far has been supporting a mentee to progress towards his goal of becoming a solicitor by finding opportunities and assisting with the application process.
What have you got out of mentoring?
A wise man said “...He who waters will himself be watered” and I have found this to be the case. The more I get involved in doing voluntary work and helping others to grow, the more I gain through improved skills for my own personal development. Most importantly, it gives me a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment to know that I have been able to give something back to the community and help give someone a chance to progress and achieve that they may not have had otherwise.
What challenges have you experienced?
The biggest challenge is finding the time to deal with mentoring. I have a very stressful and high pressured job and this takes up a lot of my time and mental energy. However because I firmly believe in mentoring and its benefits, I find ways to re-arrange my schedule to ensure that the meetings happen on time and appropriate records and feedback are presented.
What would you say to someone considering volunteering?
I would definitely encourage other people to become mentors. If you are looking for ways to develop yourself further, if you want to enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that you have been able to help shape and guide young people towards achieving their future goals or if you just want to give back to the community and help improve social mobility, I would highly recommend mentoring for you.
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