Bristol Mentors: celebrating a successful first year

By Professor Judith Squires, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost

On Friday 7 June I attended the Bristol Mentors end-of-year thank-you event at Colston Hall to celebrate the achievements and work of our mentors and mentees on the scheme. It seems like no time at all since the programme launched in the Richmond Building back in October 2018, but between now and then a significant amount of time and energy has been invested in the scheme.

Some headline stats for the work that has been undertaken are:

  • Over 100 applications were submitted for the pilot scheme, and 56 student mentees accepted onto the cohort.
  • Over 300 hours of time have been given up by mentors this year.
  • The majority of the cohort has been able to arrange invaluable shadowing, work experience and networking opportunities, helping to equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the future.

For those of you who are not aware, the Bristol Mentors programme emerged partly from the desire of alumni to give back, and partly because students wanted to learn from graduates who had been there before them. The programme is funded via the University’s Access Agreement and works alongside the Widening Participation and Student Inclusion Team to ensure that students who need support hear about Bristol Mentors. All of our student mentees are from under-represented groups and many have already overcome a level of disadvantage to earn a place to study here.

Law student Tien Tonnu with her mentor Sam Rose

Bristol Mentors has quickly become a crucial new addition to the range of activities that we at the University of Bristol offer to help all students become more employable, with mentors also enabling students to broaden their professional networks. A testament to this is Tien Tonnu, pictured here with her mentor, Sam Rose (Mentor of the Year winner), who gained a spot on a very competitive vacation scheme at a Magic Circle law firm. Tien credits her success in winning a place to the support she received from Sam over the year.

The scheme is a great example of us working as a community – bringing our students and alumni together for mutual benefit. It is also a good example of cross-department collaboration between the Careers team and Development and Alumni Relations. The support of alumni and their voice is hugely important to the University, and this project demonstrates the value of alumni to current students, who describe the scheme in very positive terms:

  • “A fantastic practical insight”;
  • “The provision has been second to none”;
  • “I’m feeling excited and a lot less scared about my future”;
  • “Taking part [in Bristol Mentors] has been key to my success”;
  • “I’ve been truly inspired”.

We sincerely hope that some of these students, too, will become Bristol Mentors in the future. After this year’s successful pilot with 56 mentees, we are currently recruiting mentors for the 100 students enrolled in the programme for next year. If you know of any alumni who would like to become mentors, please contact alumni-mentoring@bristol.ac.uk or click on the Bristol Mentors link for further information.

Finally, none of this would have been possible without the hard work of the students taking part in this programme or the involvement of the alumni, so thank you to everyone involved, with a special thanks to the evening’s organisers: Doug Middling, Alumni Engagement Officer (Widening Participation) and Robbie Fox, Alumni Mentoring Coordinator (Careers).

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