Katie Burrett, Business Coordinator of K. Burrett Cleaning Services, is our Standard Life Aberdeen Mentor of the Year for the South of England. Here, she shares her experience of volunteering with Career Ready and the difference it’s made to her life as well as that of her mentee.

I became a Career Ready mentor in the hope of providing a young person with the support that I felt was missing when I was their age – someone to push me out of my comfort zone, give me advice and inspire me to achieve my dreams.

When your 16 – 18 and in Sixth Form, having an alternative and impartial source of advice regarding future career and education options can make an important difference. Being young is tough enough without being told that you have to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life, and to figure out how exactly you will start that journey within the next few years.

As a mentor to Olivia from The King Edmund School, I’ve seen the difference which third-party support can have on a young person’s life – you fill in the gaps between information and guidance given at school and help them plot their chosen career path.

I think that our mentoring relationship helped Olivia to see the broad range of options available after she had finished school. For instance, we discussed apprenticeships, university, opportunities to be your own boss in a supported role with training, as well as going straight into work and getting qualified with work support.

Volunteering as a mentor has also made me more confident and I have no doubt that this has developed my planning, preparation, and presenting skills.

Through our time together on the programme, Olivia also developed and grew on a personal level. She began the programme being quite reserved and introverted, the idea of coming along as a guest to a networking group did intimidate her. By the end, she went to a career fair on her own and approached companies to network and talk about prospective apprenticeships. She also had the confidence to speak at the Career Ready awards ceremony which was a massive milestone her.

I have so many rewarding moments and memories from my time mentoring Olivia, but I think the real standout moment was when she turned up to meet myself and a business friend to discuss how his career path had worked out. I was really impressed that she had attended, and therefore had come outside of her comfort zone and faced her own fears, and I hoped that by putting the extra effort in by creating meetings with interesting people, this had helped her to take her future career seriously enough to use her own time proactively to learn from others.

Volunteering as a mentor has also made me more confident and I have no doubt that this has developed my planning, preparation, and presenting skills. Two years ago, I definitely would not have spoken on stage as I did at the awards ceremony. And, whilst it not why any volunteer gets involved, during the group sessions I met other mentors in the local area, which is obviously great for business networking.

Becoming a Career Ready mentor is incredibly rewarding and it’s a fantastic way to use your own time to make a real, lasting difference to a young person’s life. I would say that as long as you can physically allow time for it and you’re prepared to learn as you go, then there’s no reason not to volunteer as a mentor.

Learn more about how volunteers such as Katie transform young lives or get involved and make a lasting difference.