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At GT Scholars we have a great team of volunteer tutors and mentors that are passionate about helping young people learn, grow, and achieve their goals in life. We have regular spotlight interviews with our volunteers where they share a bit more about themselves and why they chose to volunteer. Here is a recent interview with one of our volunteer mentors – Rachel
Tell us a bit more about yourself
Hi, I’m Rachel, and I’m an architect and Design Manager living in London and I’m also a mentor for GT Scholars.
Why did you decide to volunteer as a mentor with GT Scholars?
I wanted to become a mentor with GT Scholars because I care a lot about social mobility in this country. I went to state comprehensive school, and I think it’s good for people to understand that it’s possible to be successful if you attended a comprehensive school. I came across GT Scholars because I knew that I wanted to volunteer with young people and help them with their choices. GT Scholars offered everything that I wanted to help out with.
How did you find the application process?
The process that I went through for joining GT Scholars, I had to answer some questions that Marilyn & Temi gave me. I actually went to meet Temi, the founder in person and it was just an informal nice chat. I was able to ask lots of questions about the process and what we were doing. After that, I had to do some online training which was really helpful and informative. The training provided lots of information about the status of social mobility and state schools in the UK. It was quite a quick process and after I completed the training I was matched with a mentee.
What was your first mentoring session like?
For my first session with Laura, we met up, and we had a very informal conversation, it was just a get to know you chat. I told her a bit more about myself that I’m an architect and about the university, I went to. She also told me what she’s doing at school, what her favourite subjects are, what she likes, what she doesn’t like, and that way I was able to build a picture of the things that I might be able to help with, in our future sessions.
What sort of challenges have you helped your mentee with?
During our sessions, I helped Laura with looking into career options and possibilities for after school. We worked on trying to distil down the options, working through the information overload that’s out there on the internet, and time management was also something that Laura was keen to find out more about. It’s definitely something you can learn, it’s a process and you can get better at it.
What qualities made Laura a good mentee?
The qualities that made Laura a really good mentee were one that she was very keen to learn, open to suggestions and it was very easy to get the conversation going between us. It’s also really good to understand the issues that young people are facing these days, so it was beneficial for me as well as for her.
Why do you think mentoring is so valuable for young people?
I think mentoring is really valuable to young people these days because often in schools I think that there’s not a lot of time in the day to dedicate one on one time. It’s nice to have an open and frank conversation and discussion about the issues that young people are facing these days and just to let them know about all the options that are out there. It’s also good to let them know that they’re very young still, obviously, and basically try to keep your options open, not too close down too many at this stage. You can always go through the refinement process and learn more about what you like, what you don’t like, and know it’s not a mistake to just go through a learning process.
What have you gained from volunteering as a mentor?
So the things I think I’ve gained personally from being a mentor for GT Scholars were finding out more about the issues that young people face today. It’s also been helpful to see how the skills that I’ve learned over the years, been able to help and to offer motivation to young people. Providing a way to help young people think positively has been beneficial to me.
What support have you had as a mentor at GT Scholars?
The support I’ve had from GT Scholars since I signed on as a mentor has been really great and helpful. So in the first instance, I was given some online training to help me with my sessions which were really informative and useful. GT Scholars also checked in with me once a week or every two weeks to see how the sessions were going and if I was having any issues or if I needed any more support. So there weren’t any issues, but it was nice to have the dialogue going constantly.
What would you say to anyone wanting to become a mentor?
If anyone is looking to become a mentor with GT Scholars, I would definitely recommend it and say go for it. You get a lot of support from GT Scholars and it’s a very rewarding opportunity. It’s great to meet young people who are keen to follow their dreams, find out what’s out there, and who’s motivated to learn. It was great to have an open and honest discussion with a young person about their hopes, aspirations and helping them with any issues they might have with the skills that I’ve developed and learned over the years. It’s definitely something that you can fit really easily into your working life, and it was just a nice extra thing to have in my life.