If you had the chance, what career advice would you give your 15 year old self?
On October 21st at Bridgewater High School, and again on November 10th at Penwortham Girls High School groups of students jumped on Zoom calls to quiz and question cross sector mentors, asking them about their own career journeys, and the do’s and don’ts of professional success. Each group, made up of four students, was given 15 minutes of uninterrupted mentorship, before moving round the classroom to the next Zoom call with a brand new mentor.
The carousel sessions were virtually opened by Hon Lt Cdr. Simone Roche MBE, CEO and founder of Northern Power Futures, who urged students to “be nosey! Be inquisitive! Ask awkward questions!”, encouraging them to make the most of the opportunity to come face to digital face with industry leaders; an opportunity many of these students wouldn’t otherwise get. Students were also shown an introductory video from Louise Beardmore, Customer Service Director at United Utilities. Beardmore shared experiences of her own school career, stating how she refused to let her dyslexia or working class roots interrupt her path to success. “I am proof that there is an alternative route”, she passed onto the young mentees.
These mentoring sessions were also successful in encapsulating the eight benchmarks listed in The Gatsby Report (2013), used to assess how well academic institutions provide career guidance and support to their students. Not only did the carousel sessions give students precious exposure to employers and employees who attended the event, but the small group sizes also allowed each student to use the platform to tailor the discussion to their own needs and interests, an aspect of career support which is often lost amongst growing class sizes.
The positive effect of these sessions on the students involved was tangible. When asked, over 90% of students said that they gained vital, practical skills from the session. While some of these skills were more concrete, such as CV building and the key to gainingvaluable work experience, other student takeaways were more abstract, and revolved around the life lessons and mental approach that go hand in hand with success. Lessons such as how we can choose to grow from failure, as well as the courage it takes to try new things to stand out in an overcrowded job market.
Both Roche and Beardmore spoke of how they were once in the same shoes as carousel mentees were; shoes at the foot of what feels to many like the insurmountable peak of professional success. Thanks to the guidance and encouragement of the mentors, these mentees have taken their first step on the journey to this summit. And these students have gifted cross sector industry leaders with the chance to glimpse back into their own pasts, in order to pay it forward for the future.
With two more carousel sessions planned for the coming year, Northern Power Futures are eager to see more industry leaders take up the mantle of role model, to use their own wealth of experience, and pay it forward to the next generation of northern talent.
If you want to pay it forward and mentor the next generation, or if your organisation would be interested in sponsoring future carousel mentoring sessions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org