Alex Williams – SWB Academy
Case Study – Alex Williams (in his own words).
South Wolverhampton and Bilston Academy June 2015.
My Experience on the Mentor Programme
What were the most important parts of the Mentor Programme?
The mentor programme was such a new and challenging experience. It was quite important because not only were we doing it for ourselves but also for our mentors. Everyone else involved in the mentor programme would join in and discuss ideas, we’d help each other talk, build communication skills between each other and build working relationships. We were learning how to build relationships with employers & employees from business industries.
I think that three of the most important things about the mentor programme were:
- The visit to the mentor’s workplace; in my personal experience, visiting my mentor’s workplace was exceptionally interesting because I visited Mercedes-Benz and got to see the fabulous AMG Showroom and also sit in two of their most powerful cars, the A45 AMG and the CLA45 AMG, which have such great interiors and are so comfortable.
- Interacting with the mentor you are assigned to, face to face conversations, emailing and keeping in touch. This was all important for gaining confidence and people skills.
- The presentation at the end of the programme was extremely important. This took courage and independence; being able to show what you have learnt and gained from the mentor programme was great!
How important was the workplace visit, as part of the Mentor Programme?
The visit to mentors my mentor’s workplace was fantastic! To be able to visit your mentor’s workplace is an absolute honour, to learn about that company and their job within the workplace is significantly great.
My visit to my mentor’s workplace, it gave me such a good idea on work life; it gave me views on how work is, day in and day out.
My mentor Georgina Taylor, showed me her office, where she works along with her boss and her colleagues.
I learnt what Mercedes sold as a company, the different areas within the dealership and also got to talk to the apprentice, Jack – this really helped and made a big impact. He recommended apprenticeships in general. He said he loves his apprenticeship because he gets paid to basically learn, gain skills and do work which he enjoys doing, he said it’s great!
I think that, to be able to visit your mentor’s workplace is a privilege and should be used to your advantage. It gives you an insight about working in a real business, and how competitive work is, compared to work in school.
Do you think the mentor programme would have been as effective without the workplace visit?
The programme itself is quite effective because just being able to speak to an outsider/ employer or employee of a local everyday business, is very useful and actually helps more then to speak to a teacher or even a family member. It’s different because it’s a total stranger but then after time, you build a working relationship with them. Everyone has different views and opinions about work and careers; the mentors have been in the same position as you at some point in their life, struggling day in and day out to get to where they are now. To be able to have help from the mentors and have them assist you with work and other stuff is amazing!
The workplace visit helps loads, it helps you get involved with group activities, meet and talk to important people within the business who can discuss their role as a member of the company with you; I personally think that’s extraordinary. The mentor programme would still have a good impact without the workplace visit, because it gives you time to talk to your peers, work as a team in activities, talk to the mentors about a variety of things (such as career paths) and also have your mentor organise and add amendments to your CV. From self-experience, I think that the programme is great with or without the workplace visit, but if the visit if offered, I think it’s definitely applicable.
What effect has the workplace visit had on your view if the workplace and getting a job?
The workplace visit has made me more determined to work hard in my education, so that I can get a good job. It has made me want to be a successful business man because there isn’t nothing better than doing something that you love and get paid for it. Even if it’s hard work and maybe sometimes not fun, life’s not always fun but as long as it’s worth the time and the effort then it’s more than essential.
I’ve also learnt that it’s not always about the money, but just being able to have the skills to do your job and maintaining those skills and progressing every day is important.
Seeing employers & employees in the workplace, and speaking to some of them about their jobs and their careers, makes me want to be like them one day (maybe even better!!!) and I have also thought of maybe owning a business of my own one day, or joint with a trust-worthy friend.
What are the top 5 things you have learnt from the mentor programme?
1st) I learnt to be more confident in myself when speaking to new people. I have learnt to build my communication skills when talking to my peers and people I don’t know. I know when I need to talk now and having a voice is essential; the programme made me see that if I see that I want something done, I have to be willing to put in the effort to do so.
2nd) The mentor programme taught me to be confident in myself, it’s helped with my presentation skills, and given me the confidence to be able to stand up and present work, such as the PowerPoint presentation I did at the end of the mentor programme. Before joining sixth form, I never liked to stand up in front of people and present work because I felt like it was too much pressure and everyone was talking about me, but now I realise it doesn’t matter. I now know, that the audience are listening to what I am presenting and they’re interested in understanding the information that I am presenting to them. So while I am presenting, that is my time to shine.
3rd) I also built my skills, relating to gathering the information I want to put into a presentation and organising the work so its presentable; it makes perfect sense. This was good because in sixth form gathering information and organising is a big part of my coursework.
4th) I learnt how to communicate in a professional manner and work with an older person, a Mercedes-Benz employee, Georgina Taylor, who I built an excellent working relationship with; she still helps me all of the time and if she can’t get back to me straight away, it was only because she was overly busy. Georgina always gives me positive advice, she helped organise and add amendments to my CV, which helped me massively.
5th) From the programme I learnt I have to be able to handle new tasks and challenges that get assigned to me, I need to be able to adapt to new situations and make the most of new opportunities because they could open new doors for me in the future. Being able to adapt to new situations will build my skills and will also look good on my CV; it shows that I am ready to try new things.
Explain the importance of having someone in a professional capacity to help you with your CV
Having my mentor (Georgina) format and add amendments to my CV was a big help, she formatted it in the same way hers is formatted, which is excellent. It stands out in ways my original CV didn’t; it gives short but effective information in the correct places. She formatted it so that if I have to add anything on it myself, I can easily add it on and make it compatible with the rest of the information.
Just having someone with a professional capacity look over my CV and make corrections helped me realise that there is a mature way to format my CV; if I just place it on in random orders, it shows the employer I’m not organised, which my original CV may have looked like. My updated CV shows I know how to organise information and that I know what I am talking about.
My friend helped me with my original CV, which compared to the CV my mentor did was actually quite dull, plain and not so organised so being able to have that someone to go through it from a professional background, really helps.
What is the importance of having someone, other than a Teacher or a Parent, who you can go to for support and advice about your future?
At the start of the programme, I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to do it or not, I kept thinking to myself, will this actually help? Why would I want to speak to a stranger? What about if the person is judgemental? I was thinking all sorts of things.
The first time I met my mentor I was shy, I didn’t know what type of woman she was or if we were going to get along, but after that first meeting, I actually felt like it was going to be good. We then met again with the other mentors and my peers and it was actually quite good, being surrounded by intelligent people who you know are good people. Parents will just tell you how it is and their experiences, just like teachers, but when talking to someone who is not a teacher or your parent, it removes that high authority they have over you, you don’t feel as pressured to say the correct things (for example I could ask my mentor Georgina anything, and she would give me excellent advice; I could ask for her help with something, if she could help me she would without doubt. I never thought that a stranger would help me as much as she has, she has actually become very important to me, because she is always there when I need her and she is helping me adapt to new situations to help with my future, which I find very excellent of her. I thank her so much for helping me build confidence within myself.
From my personal experience, I would say that to have someone who you don’t know, help you on a daily basis, is very helpful and essential in many ways. Being on the mentor programme was one of the best choices I have made with in my school life; I am happy to be working with the team now.
Why is having a Mentor Important to you?
Having Georgina Taylor as my mentor and being part of the mentor programme, has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. She has always been so determined and dedicated to help, encourage and motivate me and always gives me advice when I have needed it, she has never let me down once, so I think that’s absolutely great. She is such amazing and wonderful person to be involved with and now that I am in the position I am in, I do not regret doing the programme because everything that has happened has helped me and has made me more confident with in myself as a person, but also as a teenager who is soon going to have to apply for jobs and go for interviews and be successful in the world of adult hood.
Having a mentor has made me feel like someone depends on me to do stuff and place my input and my work in to stuff – this makes me feel important and like I’m doing something good, not just for myself but for others.
Why do you think you have had a successful working relationship with your Mentor?
I had a successful working relationship with my mentor because we kept in touch all the time through the mentor programme and she helped me with a lot, she has been so amazing to me, from not knowing each other at all and now having the relationship we do, I think it has taken effort, dedication, courage and loyalty.
It shows that she has a very good open heart because I was once a stranger to her and now I can contact her if I need advice, I can ask her anything and she will always try her best to give me good advice and help me out. We have contacted each other through the holidays to ask how each other is doing and if everything is okay; it shows that the programme has allowed us to build that friendly and trust worthy working relationship.
She has helped me build my confidence and always believed in me even when I didn’t; she tells me exactly how it is and always tells me to take it slow, focus and try my best. 3 of things I’ve learnt from her are:
1st) Never give up on myself, I am the only person who can change my life, who can decide my future. It might seem hard at the present time but, it will be worth it in the end.
2nd) When talking and presenting, to take my time, focus and look at the audience majority of the time to keep them interested; it’s me who is presenting and the audience who are listening to what I have to say.
3rd) Never tell myself I cannot do something, if I am determined to do it, try and try no matter what the situation. Determination is the key to success. Always think positively because negativity gets you nowhere, it just allows you to stress and worry.
There is no progress without struggle.
Georgina is a magnificent person, she is a very hard working employee of Mercedes-Benz, and I would personally say if she puts in the same amount of effort, if not more into her job, than she has with helping and advising me, then she is such a great asset to Mercedes-Benz and Employability UK.
Has the mentor programme with Employability UK been fun and kept you interested?
The mentor programme has been quite challenging and it has been interesting to meet new people and interact in groups and complete tasks as a team. It has been very eventful, being with my friends helped because being with total strangers would have been fine but with people I know it’s just that bit more interesting, Diane and the rest of the Employability team done a very excellent job, everyone got on very well it was amazing.
What would you change about the Mentor programme?
To be quite honest I wouldn’t change anything about the mentor programme, it was put together really well, I couldn’t think of anything that went wrong with the programme, personally I enjoyed it, I felt it was a new experience. It was great to be able to interact with someone new and have someone give me positive advice and help when I needed it, one thing I could say that could be added onto the programme is interview techniques, it would be so helpful for students to have practice in this area and at least be ready to go to job interviews and apprenticeships. Other than that the programme was terrific!
Signed: A Williams