Mimi Kyprianou, from Clifford Chance, has been volunteering with Career Ready since 2016. Here, she shares what the experience has taught her and why she feels it’s so important to volunteer.

I came to the UK as a student from Cyprus so I wasn’t well versed in the inequalities of UK education. But when a friend at university told me that she’d been advised ‘not to bother’ applying as she’d never be accepted, it stayed with me.

Developing a career is never easy. For some students, however, it’s an uphill struggle. That’s why I started volunteering four years ago, after hearing about it from the Community Outreach team at Clifford Chance.

From my experience with Career Ready, I have seen just how difficult it is for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access individuals who can teach them these soft skills and guide them into the professional world.

If you can empower a young person and potentially affect their life for years to come, it’s worth every minute. I am proud to have just started my fifth year as a mentor because of this.

Mentoring victories

Whilst academic achievement can boost a young person’s career, soft skills are equally essential. For instance, learning to communicate professionally, networking, and how to approach an application process. And the sooner a young person develops this knowledge and experience, the greater the impact is on their future.

Hearing that my mentees have been accepted into their dream universities is one of the most rewarding aspects for me. Of course, success isn’t always measured in academic achievement, and there’s been plenty of other victories. But, having seen the tremendous effort they’d put into their application, as a mentor, I felt like I’d been accepted with them!

Perhaps the most significant impact I’ve had on my mentees is in building their confidence and allowing them to consider goals previously seen as ‘out of reach’.

Each young person is different

Each of my four mentees has had a very different personality, a different approach and different objectives. The challenge is to work together to identify their objectives, and then encourage them to aim higher.

As a mentor, there is a balance to strike. It’s important to be supportive, but it’s also crucial that they take ownership of their studies and future career choices. Working with colleagues is similar, particularly when it comes to supporting more junior members of my team.

The benefits of mentoring

You develop an awareness of how you come across, and how it’s necessary to alter your approach depending on the circumstances.

Mentoring young people with Career Ready has also given me the opportunity to reflect on my own leadership style.

To anyone considering becoming a mentor, I would say – definitely give it a go! It’s enriching and you learn more from the experience than you might expect. Yes, it requires commitment, but empowering a young person for years to come is very rewarding.

Discover how you can make a difference to a young person’s life as a volunteer.