Professional Mentoring Scheme receives seal of approval
City University London's Professional Mentoring Scheme has received official accreditation from the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation (MBF). MBF sets the benchmark for mentoring and volunteering projects around the UK using the Approved Provider Standard (APS).
The Professional Mentoring Scheme, which was established in 2002, pairs students with inspirational individuals working in highly competitive industries, such as business, journalism and the arts. Mentors guide students effectively through the difficulties of early professional development with a view to increasing their employability.
The Scheme is run by Thalia Anagnostopoulou (Professional Mentoring Team Leader) and Taryn Ferris (Professional Mentoring Co-ordinator), pictured, who are members of City University London's Student Development Team, which is headed by Ben Butler.
The scheme achieved APS accreditation by meeting the 12 criteria outlined by MBF, which included demonstrating excellent management and organisation and establishing a rigorous recruitment, selection and training process for volunteers.
Jennifer Viccars took part in the scheme in 2010, returning to the UK to study at Cass after a period in Los Angeles. She was paired with Clare Reilly, an Arts Manager with a background in recruitment. Jennifer says her sessions with Clare helped her adjust to the new environment, develop soft skills and gain direction:
"Clare provided me with a positive, professional role model I could associate with. She made all our meetings diverse and thoroughly enjoyable, and assigned me tasks without ever making me feel under pressure. She is the first person to help me see 'the bigger picture' of myself and has never judged for my non-traditional academic background in music".
Mentor Clare Reilly commented: "I am so pleased, on both a personal and professional level, to have spent time working with someone like Jennifer. Her energy and motivation to go the extra mile is evident in every task she approaches. She manages to be an excellent student, both academically and outside of academic life through her music. I hope her achievements are an inspiration to future students".
Clare introduced Jennifer to Capco - a financial services firm which accepted her on to their graduate scheme. Three years on, Jennifer is a Senior Consultant and one of Capco's rising stars. She was a keynote speaker at the Chancellor's dinner in April this year.
Other participants in the scheme have experienced similar benefits. Computer Science student Paul Pires, a member of the 2011 cohort, was paired with Business Analyst Armin Razavi who graduated from City University London in 1998. Paul comments: "At the beginning of this year I felt as though I had almost no confidence and no clue as to how I was going to make some sort of advancement in my career. I decided to join the scheme in search of help, and met Armin".
Armin Razavi was a student at City University London from 1988-1998, undertaking a BA, Masters and PhD at City. He says he feels very connected to the institution:
"The scheme puts undergraduates in a professional situation and makes them evaluate their course and journey. I have mentored before but with Paul things were more free-flowing as he led the way. He had very low confidence but a lot of ambition. We bonded, worked really hard and he excelled".
Paul agrees: "By the end of January, I knew what I wanted to do with myself, how I was going to do it, and even secured a placement on my first interview at a reputable company in the finance industry!"
The scheme has developed and expanded each year with the support of City's Development and Alumni Relations Office and finance through the City Future Fund. More than 70% of the volunteer professional mentors are alumni of City University London while the rest are staff and employers recruited through the Careers, Student Development and Outreach teams.
The Professional Mentoring Scheme returned this week with a fresh cohort of 183 students being paired up with professional mentors. This academic year, applications will open for a second cycle of mentoring in February that aims to establish a further 217 pairs. Plans are also in motion for the launch of a postgraduate pilot strand of the program in March.
The scheme is part of the Student Development Team's ongoing efforts to cultivate stronger links between City and the community and to help students develop personally and professionally. The team also organises City Volunteering and the Buddy Scheme.