Kasim is a mentor on our Employee Volunteering e-mentoring programme. He was matched with a year 11 student from the Co-op Academy of Failsworth and they exchanged emails over our secure server for 10 months.
“I’d previously volunteered with the Co-op academies, helping to lead their massive maths team days and I was keen to volunteer on a more one to one basis, getting to know an individual student and being able to help them. When I saw e-mentoring was available it suited my work time as there was no need to travel. I also know how hard the GSCE years are and if I was that age I would have appreciated some support, so I was hoping to be able to help someone.
My mentee was very keen to have a dialogue – at first I wasn’t sure what a 15 year old would want to know about me but I found he was very articulate and we had a good dialogue going back and forth. One of the challenges was to remember to send the emails – a busy workload gets in the way sometimes but I set myself diary reminders to send them. It was tempting to think I could reply to an email in 10 minutes but I realised that it took time and concentration to send a good quality response which answered questions but also kept the flow of conversation going.
My mentee was trying to decide what he wanted to do next after GSCEs and also what results he needed to achieve to get to college. Although he is very intelligent he was less confident with his Spanish subject and was struggling with his oral examination. He was also trying to balance school work, revision and his outside interests in football and his youtube presence.
After giving some advice based on my own experiences of revising for subjects I wasn’t so keen on, we talked about setting aside enough time to practice and remembering to take breaks and not neglect his life outside of school. He told me how he had taken a lot of time aside to practice his Spanish speaking skills and after the exam he was surprised how confident he felt and how well it had gone. He also took on board other advice such as making a revision timetable.
I helped my mentee with his revision from my own experience of exams. I feel he was able to open up to me about things he maybe wouldn’t have done in a face to face conversation. The relationship ended at the end of the school year and I was disappointed not to be able to ask him about his GSCE results but he passed a message to me through the co-ordinator and he’d done really well in his exams, he even got an A* in Spanish and is going to the college of his choice. It was a great way to finish the relationship and I’m really happy for him.
I have also gained skills through volunteering. I have gained coaching and mentoring skills which are really useful in my new role as a Senior Business Auditor and managing an audit team. I have realised that I need to take my own advice and set aside time to coach and develop my team as well as my everyday tasks.
As well as the skills in mentoring I’ve gained a broader perspective on how young people see and do things differently, especially social media, which is really interesting. It’s also made me take a step back from my own busy life and realise that I can help people and how I can do that – it’s been a very rewarding experience.
If anyone is thinking of becoming and eMentor I’d tell them to take the plunge. It takes commitment to do it properly but you get out of it as much as you put in. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my mentee and I’m looking forward to getting to know another student next year.”
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