Mentoring is something that’s extremely close to my heart. Growing up on a council estate in Liverpool, there was no one who looked like me – in person or on paper – sat around the top table of a law firm.
I wanted to use my own personal experience to be a mentor to whom aspiring lawyers could relate. And, in doing so, I have gained just as much as I’ve given – if not more. It’s music to my ears when I hear that one of my mentees has landed their dream job or secured an interview with a great company.
So today, on National Mentoring Day, I hope to not only to inspire young people to reach out to potential mentors, but to also call on business leaders to break down those barriers and empower the next generation of great minds by taking on a mentee.
As we all know, these are unprecedented times – much of the working world is adapting to the new challenges brought on by the global pandemic and the job market is becoming significantly more competitive. For those at the start of their career, whether that’s in university or just after, this can be incredibly demotivating. Linking up with a mentor could provide the guidance and encouragement needed to set you apart from other candidates.
Most universities now offer some kind of mentoring programme. For example, CEL is currently working with Liverpool John Moores University and Liverpool University’s mentoring programme to deliver talks, give guidance and, hopefully, provide encouragement to young adults about to dive into the job pool.
However, this isn’t the only route to finding a mentor. I love LinkedIn as a platform for connecting with others in the sector to find out relevant news and interesting insights, and also for potential mentees to approach me asking for advice. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you look up to in the industry and pick their brain. Either they don’t reply and you haven’t lost anything, or you build a rapport and gain a great mentor out of it!
After all, the best thing to do with knowledge is pass it on!
It is very common for business owners and leaders to have an “I’m too busy” mind set, but I think we need to reframe the way we see our time. Taking half an hour out of your day to answer people’s questions is just half an hour to you, but the impact it has on both mentor and mentee are huge.
It could make a huge difference in confidence for the mentee, while imparting our knowledge as mentors not only gives us the satisfaction of knowing we are helping to shape the working landscape of the next generation, but it also helps to keep things fresh in our minds.
Beyond this, I’ve found through mentoring that I learn just as much, if not more, from the five mentees I am currently working with. I don’t want to become an employer who isn’t listening to what is important to their employees and, through talking to my mentees, I’m able to gain insight about younger millennials or Gen Z. From finding out what their fears and hopes are, to getting an insight into how they view the legal sector and any changes they think need to be done, it’s great to see things through their eyes.
One of my mentees writes a brilliant blog on neurodiversity and disability in the workplace, which is something I had little experience of. Through working with them, I have gained knowledge that will be invaluable when it comes to being able to properly support any employees who have disabilities, which is of huge importance to me as an employer.
To put it simply, those that we mentor now are the future of law. By sharing our knowledge and experiences, whether it’s just telling them what we do in an average day or helping them with their first covering letters or CVs, we are empowering them to do great things. In return, they give us a clear idea of what a young lawyer’s needs and wants are, which is crucial for firms as we evolve and adapt.
I really believe it’s time for the business leaders of today to give back to the next generation, and this is why I am proud to call myself a mentor.