Dinah Crystal OBE is the Director of External Relations and Clinical Legal Education. Dinah is a mentor for Whalley Range High School and brings a wealth of mentoring experience to the young people she is mentoring. Read her account below.
My experience of mentoring young people comes mainly from my time working at the university for 24 years where I was an academic advisor and personal tutor, which included a lot of mentoring. In addition, I was a champion of employability for the school of law, where students came in and naturally I would mentor them.
Mentoring is important. As an academic advisor, students would come in with personal problems and employability difficulties and it’s important to pass on information with confidence and to listen to them and cater for what they want.
In addition, you have to remember, you are not a counsellor but a mentor.
A lot of mentoring is generic, such as interview skills, therefore, one does not require specialist knowledge.
Mentoring has had a positive impact over the years, a lot without sounding altruistic, you get a lot from supporting a young person, and seeing their face light up, you don’t know what impact you are having, I just did a reference for a student form 3 years ago, and he mentioned how much of an impact I had on him whereas at the time I didn’t realise I had been.
The young person that I have just mentored, and I’m looking forward to doing it again next year as I thoroughly enjoyed it, during the last session was so excited saying:
I got a work placement, and without the mentoring, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to go for it.
And it was a nice feeling because I didn’t realise she was listening and applying for work placements. She was so excited to tell me the news.
Mentoring a young person is incredibly worthwhile, we all have experience whether we are 25 or 35, it doesn’t have to be law, but you have built up different experiences over time and can give back, we all have some form of network. Depending on what the mentee wants, students should be encouraged and not pushed.