How To Volunteer At Work: Mentoring

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Our Faculty and Service Liaison Manager within the Student Journey Programme at UWE Bristol, Aimée Atkinson, also writes for the City Girl Network Magazine. We are sharing her recently published piece on volunteering as a mentor at work here as an Engineering Our Future blog post, with their kind permission. Aimée also jointly coordinates UWE’s Women’s Forum.

It has been said that one of the greatest gifts you can give is your time, and this is a gift that volunteers give freely. That said, in our busy lives it can be hard to find the time to fit everything in, work, social life, dating and relationships, remembering to check in with your family, and not to mention household chores and attempting to stay in shape.

But volunteering can come in many forms, and can fit in with your busy schedule, it doesn’t have to mean spending every Saturday at your nearest soup kitchen, unless you want it to!  The best part is that you can get loads out of the experience too, that’s in addition to feeling like a useful member of society.

How about volunteering to take on some additional responsibilities at work? Providing your boss is ok with it, this could be part of your standard working day.

One great way to give back within your career is to act as a mentor. This could be as simple as showing the new girl the ropes. Or it could take the form of a more structured approach in which your mentee has a set goal in mind, and you have the skill set to help them achieve it.

How to get into mentoring

Many large organisations already have mentoring schemes in place, and offer training and support to new mentors. If your place of work isn’t one of these, it could be possible to get some outside help in the form of an external course – the Institute of Leadership and Management offer a wide range of courses on mentoring at a variety of levels.

It may even be possible to find a mentor to help you with your mentoring. However, I promise you, mentoring someone is not as daunting as it may first appear.

Finding the right mentee for you

First of all it’s important to establish you have the necessary skills to help your mentee achieve their goals – and this doesn’t mean you have to be an expert in that particular field. Sometimes mentoring is blurred with coaching, where it is simply helpful for the mentee to have someone who is removed from their situation to talk through ideas with and act as a sounding board.

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be in a more senior role than your mentee, you may be in a more junior role, but have skills in an area which are worth sharing – such as some Excel wizardry! Or perhaps you’ve managed a team for years, and someone in your office is promoted, but is new to managing and could really use your help shaping their own management style.

Next up is to agree a timescale for your mentoring relationship, and set out some ground rules. If your mentee wants to achieve a specific goal within a specific time frame, then this makes things easy, however it might be useful to agree to a three or six month period, and review if longer is required after a few months.

The ground rules are up to the two of you, though out of professional courtesy I would suggest that the content of your mentoring meetings should remain between the two of you.

Personally, I love mentoring – it’s a great way to meet new people at work, it’s incredibly rewarding to help others in achieving their goals and it’s a confidence boost in your own abilities. You will already have all the skills needed to be a mentor, as that’s the whole point, you’re sharing those skills with others.

However, if mentoring is not for you, there are many other ways to volunteer your time and boost your skills in the process. You could use volunteering as an opportunity to share your existing skills with others, or to try something completely new, either way you’re guaranteed to meet new people in the process and maybe even make some new friends.

You can get an idea of the types of volunteering opportunities available in your area via Do It.Org or Charity Job’s website or through your local volunteer centre.

As a City Girl, you should be spoilt for choice! There are ad hoc options such as at your local library, school, or homeless shelter. There are plenty of opportunities that involve working from home too, such as administrative support, web design, or even acting as a committee member. Perhaps you loved being a Brownie or Guide as a child, and would love to be involved as an adult.

We’re also huge supporters of The Girl’s Network, connecting teenage girls across the UK with professional women.

City Girl Network is a social network for young women living in cities. You can find out more about how you can be more involved with the network here.

Aimée can be found on Twitter at @AimeeLouTweets. Originally published in the City Girl Network magazine on 14th November 2018. Re-posted with permission.

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