Aiden is a public speaker and volunteer for a charity, KEEN London. At just 20 years old, he has firmly established who he is and where he wants to be. Though he enjoys speaking to, and inspiring people in his blog and artwork, he had never been mentored himself before FastFutures. He found the experience being mentored by Matthew from CGI to be truly uplifting and inspiring- during a difficult period for most people amidst Covid-19.
Aiden didn’t have many expectations for his mentoring, but he was happily surprised by what he learned through his time with Matthew. He was able to discuss about himself and best practices for work, as well as learning about the company Matthew works for, CGI. Combined with learning more at the FastFutures employer talks, he realised CGI was a company he would be interested in working for: “I actually thought to myself that this is a pretty cool organization I’ve never heard of before, so maybe I would want to work for them in the future.”
Aiden found his mentoring sessions to be useful beyond a professional scope, and that Matthew advised on larger aspects of work-life balance such as managing stress and easing the work-load: “The mentoring was actually really helpful. Less so around employability skills itself such as CV skills, and interviewing, more toward managing my well-being… ”
“… Something that I have to permanently work on, is that I find it very difficult to relax. I like to do loads of things all at once and then when it comes too much, I’m just kind of like ‘Oh my gosh, sign itself up to too much. What do I do?”
“I explained this to Matthew and it was quite encouraging. He said that this tends to be quite a young person thing to do, and that because he’s got a range of similar interests himself, he’s found himself in that kind of position in the past, and as he’s gotten older, he’s learned how to manage that better. So that was actually quite reassuring that this might not be a always problem.”
Aiden is a reminder that mentoring does not necessarily have to be business-focused, even when being mentored by a business professional. In order to perform professionally, we must all maintain our personal health. Mental health is majorly impacted by work, be it in a job, at home or in education. Aiden expressed his common trait of “taking on too much” and through discussions with his mentor Matthew, he learned a lesson from the wise that he doesn’t always have to be on the go. As Tolstoy says ‘The two most powerful warriors are patience and time’, a key note for young people just beginning their journey and feeling like they have to conquer the world in a week. Where a better work-life balance can be implemented, focus directed, and stress levels reduced, work can be more meaningful and impactful.
Taking onboard mentoring and advice translates to positive results for businesses too. According to ‘MentorMe’, 67% of businesses reported an increase in productivity due to mentoring, and 55% of businesses felt that mentoring had a positive impact on their profits. From his experience, Aiden thinks that in the right environment, mentoring can be an integral element for onboarding and diversifying workforce:
“If organisations had internal mentoring, it can be a really valuable way of helping someone settle into the organisation and also learn the sectors they could progress into. Or even just small tips about how to enter those sectors and gain contacts who could help.”
And mentoring is not only a useful scheme internally within a workplace, but Aiden agrees that mentoring is important in programmes like FastFutures, where young people are looking to improve their skillset and become more employable. Gaining personal insight from a professional is incredibly useful to understand the organisation and how to be the best prospective asset to their team. Aiden also thinks it’s useful for the organisations taking part in mentoring in order to connect with the next young talent, understand how they can evolve to platform more voices and diversify their teams. Learning from mentees and people in a more junior role is so important to keep in touch with the outside world and the people businesses want to reach. This is known as reverse-mentoring and is increasingly within UK businesses.
The relationships built from mentoring can become really valuable beyond the three hour-long sessions. Within that time, there is the opportunity to learn a lot about each other and most pairs take a real interest in each other and strive to stay in touch after the programme. Aiden and Matthew are an example of a pair who maintained a relationship after the mentorship. This led to an opportunity for Aiden to speak at a CGI conference through Matthew’s connections:
“Following on from my mentoring relationship with Matthew, I am actually giving a talk for CGI for their know diversity and disability network which is very exciting”
Overall, Aiden really appreciated being mentored by Matthew and came away with a renewed sense of optimism on how to manage tasks and stress so that it doesn’t take over his life: “I’m very grateful to Matthew of giving up his time to be a FastFutures mentor, I’ll take his advice with me into the future.”
His advice to mentees: Aiden advises to have an open mind when going into the mentorship in order to get the most out of the experience. Mentors can advise on many different topics around work life, applications and motivation, no matter their professionalism or background:
“I think that an important part is not having preconceptions about what your mentor might be able to help you with, or even organisation that they work for… I hadn’t heard of CGI before the start of FastFutures so if I restricted my focus to a specific organisation, I might have missed other opportunities my mentorship offered. Keep an open mind, let your mentor guide”.
Aiden recommends being open-minded. Let FastFutures find your mentor-match, be willing to engage with the sessions, and be receptive of their suggestions and advice. They are here to help you… And they might just help in ways you didn’t expect!