12 May 2022

“Being a mentor has helped significantly with the skills I need for my future career.”

University student and Future First volunteer Cam Arkle has provided mentoring support to students for around two years now. Here he talks about the benefits of online mentoring and how the experience has also benefited his studies and career prospects.

I’m in my third year of studying Psychology at Bangor University and was initially approached by Future First in my first year to speak to students at my old school, Bedlington Academy.

It’s really been about me offering students some support and guidance about higher education and apprenticeships and the other options open to them. I remember how stressful and tumultuous it was going through GCSEs and A Levels. Offering support to the students was very important to me because I could really have done with that support when I was their age.

I’ve now offered mentoring support to students in other schools across the country and I suppose that is one of the real benefits of the online mentoring process, especially with me being based in North Wales. But I also think it’s an approach that works really well for the students. It’s been more accessible and I actually think it has improved the experience for both them and me. It felt like it was easier for us to get into more pressing issues that they may not have been so willing and keen to discuss in person, among their peers.

The private one-to-one discussion has been really good because I’ve been able to tailor the conversation to each individual’s aspirations and needs. It’s definitely a model I think could be used way beyond education, such as in mental health support or skills development 

I’ve spoken to students from around 10 schools now, right through from Year 10 to Year 13. I hope I’ve helped them to weigh up the options open to them after school and maybe helped them consider options they didn’t know were open to them. While I was pretty clear at school about what direction I wanted my studying and career to go in, I know loads of people who weren’t so clear – even at university. In fact, it’s very common and my hope is that I’ve helped the students I’ve spoken with to navigate that uncertainty.

It’s important to give students the opportunity to speak to someone who has recently gone through the experiences they are facing.

They need someone who understands and can really listen. In my experience a career adviser isn’t likely to have left school very recently and may not really listen to what you want to do. This could end up guiding you down a route that isn’t really for you. Future First are offering a mentoring programme which gives students access to genuinely relatable role models.

I have to say that I’ve also benefited from volunteering as a mentor with Future First. It’s helped significantly with the counselling skills that I need for my future career. I plan to go on and do a masters degree and doctorate in counselling psychology and the programme has helped me get experience of working in the helping profession. A good counsellor needs to demonstrate skills such as empathy, goal-setting, communication and active listening. I can say I certainly have improved in these areas from taking part in mentoring.

I’m very glad I took up the opportunity to be a mentor for Future First and if the students have gained from the experience then it’s been beneficial for all of us.

Interested in joining Cam in becoming a mentor? Find out more & express your interest.

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