I Didn’t Know I Needed a Mentor…Until I Had One.
COVID-19 has been hard for many professionals, young and seasoned.
Some lost their jobs and had to find one in the middle of a pandemic, and others realised they needed to upskill.
No matter the reason, many of us suddenly realised that we needed a support network that could help us navigate uncertain times.
I, like many others, found that in the mentoring programme run by LMF Network.
Why is the LMF’s mentoring programme the ally you need?
Mentoring can help an individual drive personal growth and build skills, knowledge, and understanding. It can also support making diversity and inclusion a reality.
That is the aim of LMF’s mentoring scheme. It seeks to increase opportunities for underrepresented groups, allow individuals to feel a sense of community and have tools to help them achieve their career goals.
LMF’s programme is the largest digital scheme in the UK. Their second edition has supported more than 600 participants from 14 countries, mainly females or individuals who identify as gender fluid (90%) from non-white backgrounds (55%).
The scheme consists of monthly workshops for mentees on goal setting, imposter syndrome, networking and interviewing skills, and careers. For mentors, there are networking lunch & learns where they can meet other professionals.
Both mentees and mentors have one-to-one sessions each month, and they receive support through direct email, regular catch-ups with the founding team and a buzzing slack and LinkedIn community.
LMF has also established partnerships with companies like Stripe, Perlego, KTN, Capitol Placement, and the Charity Learning Consortium. These partners provide vital support to the different activities and tools used in the mentoring programme.
As proof of the mentoring programme’s impact, the National Lottery Community Fund recognised it with a £9k grant to keep helping young professionals progress in their careers.
I am sure those who have participated can also attest to LMF’s mentoring programme’s positive impact.
LMF’s mentoring programme from a mentee-mentor perspective.
When I first read about LMF’s mentoring programme back in 2020, I wasn’t sure that it was for me. I thought: “I have already been working for over six years, so surely this scheme is for a new professional?”
How wrong I was. Finishing my master’s degree and looking for my next career move in the middle of a pandemic triggered my imposter syndrome.
I suddenly found myself in need of guidance and support. So, I decided to sign up to find a guide to help me achieve my goals. I am happy that I took that decision.
On the other hand, my mentor Katie, “found out about LMF’s mentoring programme through Sonya [LMF’s founder], who asked if I or anyone at LinkedIn would be interested in participating.”
She accepted, and we learned we’ve been matched by LMF’s team based on similar professional background and goals. I won’t lie. I was nervous about meeting someone with her experience and unsure about what having a mentor meant.
But, since the first meeting, my mentor Katie and I clicked.
About her initial thoughts, Katie said:
“I’d never been an official mentor before! I enjoyed it from the very beginning because I felt like I had a genuine connection to my mentee and because I recognised so many of her challenges as ones I’d faced myself.”
According to LMF’s research, having a mentor can increase confidence in their personal and professional lives and have a higher self-awareness of their strengths and weaknesses. I can confirm that I have felt empowered by this mentoring relationship.
In our second one-on-one session in March, we discussed my objectives and the best way to achieve them. Due to my personal goals and professional aspirations, we decided to work on a personal brand strategy on LinkedIn.
Since then, we’ve had monthly check-in sessions where we talk about how I am getting on my goals, what challenges I have been facing, and what I can do to overcome them. Katie even encouraged me to launch my Medium blog and start to write more, a personal goal that had been in the back of my mind for quite some time.
Katie has been a mentor, guide and cheerleader — and sometimes editor -, and is always ready with kind advice that has helped me rebuild my confidence in my skills.
But, mentees are not the only ones that benefit from this two-way relationship.
“Being a mentor has helped me realise that I’ve gained experience and wisdom in my own career. It’s easy to forget how far you’ve come, but this has reminded me that I have developed skills to address common career challenges”, explained Katie.
Mentoring someone helps the mentor reinforce their knowledge about a particular topic, improve listening and interpersonal skills, and even help their own career progression.
We are one month away from finishing the programme, and I can tell you I feel like a different person.
I know reaching my goals and building self-confidence is a continuous effort, but Katie’s support has been invaluable in this journey.
You don’t realise the impact a mentor has on achieving the objectives you set up for yourself until you find yourself in need of a guide and cheerleader.
If you’ve been wondering whether to join LMF’s mentoring scheme or not, both Katie and I say a big, resounding: “Yes!”.
Not only you will have workshops to work on career skills and finding your passion. But, you will also find supportive relationships that will empower you.
This blog contribution was made by Alex C Menendez.
Alex is a Communications and Public Affairs Consultant with 7 years of experience passionate about helping organisations tell their stories and engage with their stakeholders.
She has a master’s degree in Public Administration and Management from University College London.
Since March 2021, Alejandra is Press and Communications Lead for LMF Network (London).
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What is LMFnetwork?
The LMFnetwork is a global social enterprise (not for profit) focused on empowering, enabling & educating womxn and marginalised groups into tech, entrepreneurship & digital. We specialise in designing and delivering accessible programmes and supporting a global community. We’ve gone from a brunch club to a social good brand based on what the community wanted. We are a real community run by real people.