Mujina Kaindama, Senior Policy Advisor at the Department for International Trade
Mujina is mentoring Jess, a participant on the 2020/21 UpRising Leadership x One Million Mentors Programme.
My family is originally from Zambia and I think some of the issues that are associated with moving countries, and coming somewhere totally new, motivated me to want to do mentoring. I work in a space where you don’t necessary come across people who look like me too often, and I felt I had some insights to share with someone from a similar background to myself. [My mentee] is actually English born and bred, but she was one of the first in her family to go to university. Through my experience I was able to help her because she was navigating some of the same issues I had, even though we are from quite different backgrounds.
When I started mentoring I thought that a lot of my role would mainly be around helping with the job hunt. While I did quite a lot of that with Jess by email, something I have found quite interesting is that in our monthly sessions over Zoom a lot of the challenges she has been facing are around coping with the pandemic – like plans having to be changed at the drop of a hat, or securing something just for it to be taken away. Also that idea of, what does it mean to go back to normal?
There’s some concern around what that looks like, and around wider issues and challenges in the world. There have been quite a few incidents over the past year that have been difficult to process for anyone, let alone young people. I’m thinking the murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement, and more recently the murder of Sarah Everard, which sparked some interesting conversations around women’s safety. A lot of those more existential topics [led to] quite practical questions and conversations, which made me think that’s a challenge we are all facing, not just young people.
Jess is much more open with me now about all aspects of life. I think she has developed in confidence – she just needed some encouragement and reminders of her abilities because a lot of the time, job hunting can feel quite demoralising when you’re getting rejections. Just because you haven’t got something right now, it doesn’t mean you can’t get something in the future… And you’re not just saying that to be nice, but because this is someone who would be a good candidate with their education and experience.
I would definitely recommend mentoring! You would be surprised how helpful you can be for a young person who is navigating situations they haven’t been through before. You can also learn about the challenges they are experiencing in the world. It’s uplifting to help other people right now.