Jagpal Kasbia, from Luton Sixth Form College, graduated the Career Ready programme in 2018. During the programme Jagpal was mentored by Professional Development Manager at BSI, Marnie Zwanik. As part of BSI’s commitment to social responsibility, they have partnered with Career Ready to help enable young people from disadvantaged areas develop the confidence and skills necessary to prepare for the working world.

Here, after presenting to BSI UK Executives about his experiences, Jagpal caught up with Zoe Mobberley, Group Social Responsibility Manager. Zoe asked Jagpal a few questions about his experiences of being mentored and what he has learnt throughout the process.

Why did you sign up for the mentorship programme?

Mentoring is part of the Career Ready programme and helps you get started to help prepare for the industry you want to go into. I had a mentor to guide me through applications, mock interviews, applying to university and things like that and I was paired up with Marnie, who’s been great. 

What were the 3 key things you learnt from having a Career Ready mentor?

Firstly, it sounds cliché but be yourself – don’t put a façade on. Just be comfortable saying ‘this is me’ and don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Secondly, be confident when talking to your mentor, if you’re not confident and open, it beats the whole purpose as you need to be able to engage and have good conversations with them. Last of all, it helps you to prepare for the working world by getting the opportunity to find out from someone established how they got to where they are today.

It’s been brilliant getting to know each other throughout the mentoring process. I still remember our first meeting; walking away feeling like we’d had such quality conversations. We talked about Brexit, homelessness – it exceeded my expectations around what I’d be speaking to a student about. I wanted to be a mentor because I thought – yeah I could offer someone something. With my experience in the HR team there would be something I can pass on. Mentoring with Career Ready has completely exceeded my expectations in terms of what we’ve both learned from the process and I really did enjoy our sessions – it’s not just a tick box exercise.

Marnie Zwanik, Professional Development Manager at BSI and Jagpal’s Mentor.

Was there anything you didn’t expect that came out of having a mentor?

I think some of the stuff that I’ve shared with Marnie, especially personal stuff – I didn’t think I’d divulge that or be as open as I am now. Getting to really know someone with each conversation has been something I didn’t expect.

Do you feel more confident now to go into the working world?

Yes definitely – before I couldn’t have sat here with you now, answering all these different questions. It’s really helped me, I’ve learnt how to introduce myself and break the ice when meeting new people.

What would you say to anyone thinking of becoming a mentor?

I think the Career Ready programme helps the mentor as much as it helps the mentee, as you unlock a different part of yourself. For a mentee, it’s about putting trust into someone and the same for the mentor, you become responsible for a person to a certain extent. It helps the mentee come into the real world and it helps the mentor keep in touch with the younger generation and see the way society’s going.

What is it you would like to do in the future? And how did having a mentor help you prepare for that?

I want to go into a legal profession, either as a Barrister or Solicitor – I haven’t decided yet and I have no idea what specific area. My Career Ready mentor has helped me by increasing my self-awareness, helping my confidence and strengthening my communication skills. Marnie provided me with tips ongoing into the workplace like when you go into an interview, make sure you’re dressed appropriately and look confident, even if you’re not. Getting prompts on little things that you wouldn’t think about until the day has been useful.  Marnie also facilitated an introduction to Anthony Webb, Legal Director, Regulatory Services, who gave me advice on the legal profession.

Lastly, what’s next for you?

I’ve put my applications forward for university now, I’ve applied for Cambridge and Warwick which is definitely going to be hard. However, one thing throughout this process that has made a difference is that Marnie has had a lot of confidence in me and I think that really helps when applying to places like Cambridge as even if I don’t have the confidence in myself – someone telling you that they have a lot of confidence in you, really boosts your self-esteem.