Since launching our Mentoring Scheme back in March 2021, we’ve matched 24 participants and now have 16 mentors available to work with new applicants. As we reach the end of the year, it’s a good time to consider how things are going and what we can improve on next year. Sarah Lister, who manages the scheme, shares some of the feedback she’s had, the changes we are making and what we need from you, whether you’re already on the scheme or thinking about getting involved.
Over the past year I’ve been working closely with mentors and mentees to make sure they feel supported in their roles, to answer questions, and to stay informed about how things are going with our matches. It’s been great to receive positive feedback and suggestions for improvement, which we’re putting in place in 2023.
James Charlesworth, mentor, told us:
“The Sheffield Digital mentorship scheme has been extremely valuable and fun. As a mentor on the scheme, I have really loved meeting up with and helping people who are just starting out in their career in tech.
“Being faced with the insightful opinions and questions of mentees has made me reflect on my own role, and my own growth as an engineering manager. The tech industry is like no other, and interviewing for a job in software development or associated discipline is truly unique so I’m glad I’ve managed to point a few people in the right direction and help them out.
“Hearing that someone I mentored has landed their first job as a software engineer is such a rewarding feeling, and I am incredibly emotionally invested in the success of everybody I’ve met through the mentorship scheme!”
One of our mentees said:
“It’s a great opportunity that the mentorship provides and access to an experienced professional is so valuable when you are looking at the industry from the outside in. I’m very grateful that I was able to use the service and grateful for the time offered.”
Changes we are making
Mentors have been asking for more guidance, resources, and opportunities to meet each other. I’m responding to this by putting together in-person guidance sessions so that mentors can understand how I’m running the scheme and what to do if any issues arise. The first of these will take place on Wednesday 25 January 2023, 12-1pm at the Sheffield Technology Parks, and you can book a spot here.
This will also be an opportunity to ask questions and to meet other mentors. I hope that it will provide clarity about the scheme, encourage more people to participate, and add value to the experience. If there is enough interest, I’ll also be introducing an in-person meetup for mentors to offer each other peer support, to discuss challenges and to network.
There will be social events for mentees to meet other people in our individual membership community who are changing careers or learning new skills, for example. Individual members who are thinking about joining the scheme will also be able to attend so that they can find out more about it by asking questions and listening to others’ experiences.
I’ve decided to extend participation in the scheme to twelve months instead of the original six months, as most participants have been working together for longer due to holidays and other commitments.
There will of course always be the option to drop out sooner, so don’t be put off if you don’t think you can commit to 12 months at the outset. There is plenty of flexibility, I just ask for clear communication for things to run as smoothly as possible.
What we need
- More mentors to sign up, particularly people with leadership skills and business owners with experience of generating new leads. The minimum commitment is one hour per month with your mentee, either in-person or online. You don’t have to be a Sheffield Digital member to join. Read our guidance for mentors here.
- More mentees to sign up as we have an extremely talented pool of mentors who are waiting to volunteer their time towards supporting you. You need to be an individual member to join the scheme, which costs £5 per month and includes other community benefits. Read our guidance for mentees here and you can find information on joining membership here.
- A monthly commitment from both mentors and mentees so that the scheme runs smoothly and effectively. Gaps are sometimes unavoidable, but regular contact can really help with momentum and motivation. This is working better now that I send out regular emails to both mentors and mentees asking how things are going, but sometimes I don’t receive a response.
- Clear and complete sign-up forms to help me with matching mentees to suitable mentors. The more information that I have, the better the matches will be. Please take your time and consider what you will most value by taking part.
Whether you’re looking for a new challenge in 2023 and think you’ve got something to offer as a mentor, or you’d like the kind of support and guidance a mentor can offer, why not get on board with the scheme next year? You can sign up as a mentor here, and as a mentee here. If you have any questions about the scheme, please email me: email@example.com.