Laura Flynn is one of our Mentor of the Year 2022 winners, supported by Savills. Here, she shares her experience of being a mentor and the impact this has had on her mentee, Zahrah.

I wanted to do what my mentor did for me

I grew up in deprivation on a council estate in Dagenham and I, like many of my peers, had no career aspirations at all. When I was 14, I was very lucky to meet someone who took the time to mentor me.

Her name was Marion and she transformed my life by showing me that I could choose a future for myself that I had not imagined was open to me.

Knowing the difference that a mentor can have on a young person’s life inspired me to pay the gift that Marion gave to me forwards by becoming one myself.

The power of a mentor

A good mentor can light the fire of self-belief and self confidence in a young person that enables them to take the next steps into their own bright future. A mentor can support a young person through those challenging first steps into work, apprenticeships, or university. Many young people will not have access to a professional mentor, which is why the Career Ready programme is so important.

Through Laura’s guidance I’ve learnt things that would never have occurred to me otherwise. It’s because of her constant support that I have found faith in myself and my talents.

Zahrah Aljurani, Lambeth College London, National Student of the Year 2022

Zahrah is an amazing young woman who really engaged with the programme and was utterly focussed on her education. She had to travel across London to get to college, setting off in the early hours of the morning, always on time and achieving top grades.

And through our mentoring sessions, she has grown in confidence, which was a key aim for Zahrah when we met. I also arranged for her college to undertake a dyslexia assessment and as a result she received further needed support.

The most rewarding moment for me was when Zahrah got her first university offer to study Pharmacy. It had been a long-held dream for Zahrah to study Pharmacy, and I was so happy for her when she achieved that dream. She really deserved that success for all her hard work, perseverance, and commitment.

Impact across generations

Mentoring on the Career Ready programme is a wonderful and fulfilling experience because it gives you the opportunity to genuinely make a positive impact on a young person’s life. The impact crosses generations too; not only will the life of your mentee be changed, but so will the lives of their children and their grandchildren.

Volunteering with Career Ready has also transformed my own career. So much so that I have decided to change profession. I have stepped aside from my role as a Chief Operating Officer at City University London to retrain as a careers coach.

I have seen the positive impact the Career Ready programme has on young people and I believe in its power to change lives for the better. I’d encourage anyone thinking of volunteering to go for it.

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