The first in a series of ‘Routes mentoring stories’.
Ahead of opening applications for our Autumn/Winter mentoring programme, we asked some mentors and mentees on our current programme to share their experiences so far.
Nahida (Comms Planning Director for M/Six) - mentoring Oyinlola
“We all get absorbed in our day to day lives… through programs like Routes you are able to step outside of your comfort zone and take on the challenge of making a difference.”
Why did you sign up to be a Routes mentor?
I had expressed frustrations to our Head of People [about] wanting to do more outside of work to make a difference to the lives of women. Having had such amazing opportunities and support in my life I wanted to be able to give something back in return… It’s hard for someone to start afresh, let alone not knowing how to start. In devoting some of my personal time and energy I thought it could make a small difference building up an individual's confidence and skills.
Why do you think it’s important for businesses to support their employees to participate in programmes like this?
We all get absorbed in our day to day lives and whilst there are opportunities to make a difference in your own industry, through programs like Routes you are able to step outside of your comfort zone and take on the challenge of making a difference to the life of someone who lives in a completely different world to yours. Businesses need to give back to the wider society and not just help within their own industry.
How was your first meeting?
[Before our first meeting I was] nervous, excited and apprehensive about whether I would be liked, whether I could really make a difference… We were both nervous, and I think our first meeting was about feeling comfortable to open up and just talk. I was blown away by the confidence of this young women who had faced so many obstacles.
Since then she landed two interviews, was offered both jobs and to top it all off we are both working to get her onto a Digital Marketing Course for her future career.
What do you most admire in your mentee?
Her positivity and warmth! And how humble she is and doesn't realise how much she has achieved. Though she has been faced with so many obstacles, she keeps growing.
Would you recommend becoming a Routes mentor?
I have already recommended this to a client of mine! It’s an experience where you are given the chance to make a difference to another woman, and you get rewarded seeing that difference come to life. A few hours of your time can make the world of difference to someone else.
Daniela - mentored by Rachel (Development and Community Manager, Goldsmiths SU)
“Asylum seekers and refugees most of the time don't have information about things we would like to do, [like] studying or working in this country… Because of programmes like this, so many women are advancing a lot on all kinds of things.”
How did you hear about the Routes mentoring programme?
I had heard from my housemate last year who had a mentor herself. I have always been very sceptic[al] about mentors but I decided to give it a go. I wasn't sure how a mentor [could] help me to find out things which were personal as well, [for example] understanding what I’m good at and what kind of jobs I [could] do.
What was your first meeting like?
So natural. We shared things about ourselves and what we were hoping to get from each other. I thought she is so cool and friendly and can definitely help me. [She] has been amazing finding out all the information I needed, and now we are working on the last details about admissions [to] university.
Why do you think programmes like this are important?
Asylum seekers and refugees most of the time don't have information about things we would like to do, [like] studying or working in this country… I wouldn't get the same information [myself] about university, how I can apply for funding or voluntary work opportunities, jobs I can do after I study etc. It's very important that mentors keep that amazing work going to make us feel we belong and we are part of this society [so we can] give our contribution to this country. Because of programmes like this, so many women are advancing a lot on all kinds of things.
To become a Routes mentor this Autumn, register your interest below.
Applications open on 5th August 2019 for an October start.
(N.B. Both mentees’ names have been changed for privacy reasons)