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Alumni mentors lead the way

A mentoring scheme that partners York alumni with current students has drawn praise for its role in clearing a path for students into the job market, while enhancing existing industry links with old York students.

Now in its third cycle, the Alumni Mentoring Scheme continues to be popular with students and alumni alike.

‌For the students involved, the benefits of the activity are clear: a chance to receive guidance in exploring career options, develop confidence in communicating with professionals, insight into the application and job hunting process, and the opportunity to ask for expert advice on what to do next.

Following on from last summer’s successful pilot, in the scheme’s autumn cycle 50 students were matched with 25 mentors from a range of sectors including media, marketing, academia, the arts, finance, consultancy, education, the third sector, law and industry. This time, the scheme has extended its mentoring network to an even greater range of local, national, and international organisations, including the owner of York Cocoa House, a technologist for the BBC, the Director of the Historic Towns Forum, and the CEO of Quorn Foods.

Vivien Chung (BA Language, Literature and Education 2012, and now a runner logger at the BBC) said, “I was able to meet some really helpful people on the scheme, in particular my mentor, who gave me sound advice, helped me [improve] my interview skills, and guided my job-hunting in the industry. I could not be more grateful for the wealth of experience and contacts I have gained through these alumni.”

For mentors, whose support role has to be slotted around a busy working day, the reward may be less obvious. However, alumni are finding the opportunity enjoyable, gratifying and as beneficial to their skills and experience as it is for the mentees.

Rob Lawrence, Assistant Editor, BBC Newsroom (BA Economics and Politics 2000) explains, “In my role I am frequently approached by young people looking for experience and progression from an entry-level job; [the mentoring scheme] was an ideal opportunity to share insights beyond a brief email exchange…and reflect on how our recruitment and early career development might compare to others in the sector.

I found it really gratifying to be able to help a fellow Yorkie on their way!

Jarrod Kay

“For me, the reward was in knowing I would be helping mentees reflect on what drew them to a potential career in the sector – and the sort of skills they would want to employ, and how. It was simply reward in itself to work with two bright young people teeming with enthusiasm and ideas.”

Jarrod Kay, Consultant to – and former Commissioner of – the High Security Prison estate (BA Politics 1994), added, “The most rewarding bit was being able to use my network to achieve objectives that the mentees had been unable to do themselves, such as work placements. I also found there were real business benefits to myself as I had cause to renew business connections which I had not accessed in many years. I found it really gratifying to be able to help a fellow Yorkie on their way!”

The scheme continues to be a success with the current cohort, which runs until Week 7 of the Summer Term. Alumni Mentoring Scheme Coordinator Sarah Pett says, “We are extremely grateful to the alumni who offer their time and support to the enhancement of York students’ employability, and so pleased that they find some reward in the work they put in. We are keen to hear from any alumni who may be willing to act as a mentor in future cycles.”

Further information