A real boost, says Alex, comes from the personal nature of the help he was able to provide his “mentees” – 16 in total. Like them, he was studying law, so he sat with some of his first years in their first lectures, which really broke the ice for those students, particularly as he had a good relationship with that lecturer.
When they needed specific help, he could give them names of people to talk to, instead of just pointing them towards a service. This real-life guidance cut away much of the uncertainty that can characterise any student’s first term, providing both an emotional and academic advantage.
“Essentially, I saw it as a big brother role. I gave advice ranging from who to talk to about visas, to getting tickets to events; anything from big to small.“
Alex points to some of the key benefits of mentorship: feeling heard and being peer-supported makes new students comfortable and able to find their feet more easily. By providing one-to-one reassurance, Alex found he could put things in perspective for the new students and ease his mentees’ worries. He showed them around and explained how things worked – always a valuable help to a new young student, possibly fresh from home.
“It’s not just quiet people who seek mentoring – I found that the more overtly confident students needed just as much support. Everyone has grey days and when my mentees felt overwhelmed, I was able to provide extra help – sometimes simply some sage words - to help them bounce right back.”
Alex felt he gained an enormous amount from the mentoring relationship too:
“There was a sense of helping others, of getting the scheme organised with so many mentees. I ended up being more confident in my own work as a result – more confident and assertive. It was also great in readying me for professional skills such as timekeeping and managing relationships professionally.
“Kate [Booth, the STaR Mentor Coordinator] has been so supportive and helpful throughout the whole STaR partnership. She was very hands-on and always there when I needed help, advice or otherwise!”
Alex strongly supports the STaR scheme and sees it as a valuable part of student well-being. He is glad he had the chance to participate and would recommend being a mentor to anyone else.
Learn more about the STaR Mentorship scheme and the benefits it brings to both mentors and mentees.