My desire to become a mentor stemmed from my experience as a mentee. I found mentoring a fantastic way not only to broaden my personal knowledge and skills, but having a sounding board to talk through my ideas and receive constructive, healthy challenge really changed my perceptions and how I think about things. This is what I’ve tried to bring to my role as a mentor – both my skills to share and my ears to listen – and perhaps most importantly, a blank mind approach.
Mentoring is important because I believe that we need to equip our young people with the right tools to move from academia – be that school, college or university – to the workplace. Qualifications and hard facts are important, but the most critical thing for me is soft skills. While I don’t profess to be an expert, I’ve worked with schools in a previous role to look at the soft skills gaps that young people have, and it really shocked me. If I – and the other One Million Mentors – can help to plug this soft skills gap and help young people with the tools they’ll need after their school life, then it’s all worthwhile.
Mentoring is one of the most rewarding things that I’ve ever had the opportunity to do – either in my personal or professional life. Even in the short nine months I’ve been working with my mentees, I’ve seen a significant shift in confidence and focus. I think it shows that, with the right match between mentor and mentee, it’s possible to really make some positive changes in even a short space of time. On a more personal note, it hasn’t just been about what I’ve been able to teach them, but my mentees have taught me quite a bit as well about their lives, their cultures, their families – it’s definitely a two way arrangement.
If you are considering mentoring, with a slight fear of being sued by Nike – “just do it!”
Jon Nickson, Senior Project Manager, Manchester City Council