You may have seen our recent news update where we introduced our #WeMadeIt blog series. We thought we’d kick it off with some thoughts from one our most recent mentors Andy Craig, Delivery Lead at Red Badger.
Advice, knowledge and support are just some of the valuable things mentoring can bring, but not all mentoring relationships are formal like ours:
“I’ve never had an official mentor, but there are a number of people throughout my career who have acted as one… and they’ve been hugely influential in helping me reach where I am today. They’ve given me support and guidance whenever I’ve needed it, and imbued me with a confidence to succeed in what I do. Crucially, they allowed me to make my own mistakes and to realise the value in learning from them.”
People become mentors for various reasons, for Andy it was about community spirit. Not long after joining Red Badger, Andy joined their internal Social Value Task Force, a team dedicated to looking into ways to give back to the community. As well as working with different organisations, Andy felt there was an opportunity to work with individuals to share career advice and life lessons he learned on his journey:
“I’m aware that I’ve been given opportunities that may not have been afforded to me if it wasn’t for my background, and I feel very strongly that I should use my experience to help others reach the goals that their talent deserves, irrespective of background or situation.”
Mentoring involves setting and reaching goals, and for Andy, seeing his mentee progress within her journey has been quite an experience:
“It’s been such a privilege to work alongside my mentee and help her take steps to realise her goals. She’s thrown herself into the experience in a way that’s been truly inspiring, coming to each of our sessions with fresh ideas for her project, coupled with an eagerness to listen and take advice on board.”
During the mentoring process, Andy also learnt something new about himself:
“From a personal point of view it’s really helped me gain perspective on my own goals, both professionally and outside of work. It’s reawakened my drive to pursue some interests I’ve put on the backburner over the last few years, and seeing the progress my mentee has made in a short space of time has made me realise that some of them aren’t as distant as I thought.”
Andy also feels his experience of being a mentor has enhanced his own skills:
“Being a mentor also helps you develop your soft skills, encouraging you to empathise, guide and actively listen to your mentee. These are all fundamental to succeeding in your chosen career, regardless of the industry you’re in.”
Andy’s experience shows that mentoring doesn’t just benefit the mentee, or the mentor – it can have a wider impact:
“A real highlight of our time was getting my mentee involved with a video we were in the early stages of planning at Red Badger. In the meeting, she was suggesting concepts that we’d never have come up without her, and she blew everyone away with her creativity.”
Many of us will have that one good piece of advice somebody gave us that changed our perspective, mindset or our lives for the better. For his mentee, Andy’s best piece of advice is about finding what method of getting things done works for you.
“She may say differently, but I think the best advice I’ve given to my mentee was showing her a method for prioritisation. To-do lists can become overwhelming when it feels like everything needs doing now (a trap I’ve fallen into in the past), but by placing tasks on a matrix of urgency versus importance, it can really help gain perspective on what really does need to be done, and what can be pushed back or delegated elsewhere.”
Mentoring can be a truly rewarding and inspiring experience, which is why Andy recommends it to anyone who is interested in being mentored or becoming a mentor:
“I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. I’ve loved every minute of being a mentor, and the support You Make It provides to both mentors and mentees alike means that everyone is given every chance of success in the programme. The team do incredible work to keep everyone on track (the pairings they come up is nothing short of alchemy), and will always be a WhatsApp message away if you have any questions. I’ve also been lucky in having a few colleagues as mentors in the same cohort, meaning there’s always someone around to bounce ideas off. It’s been a real pleasure seeing the strides their respective mentees have made too, and serves to emphasise the impact You Make It can have on people’s lives.”
To stay up to date on more inspirational stories like this make sure you subscribe to our newsletter. If you are interested in becoming a mentor please contact our Programmes Manager Roxi on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Eunice Marfo and edited by Bemi Onadeko.