Virtual Mentoring – challenging, but possible!

Hello everyone, my name is Fabiana and I am volunteering with Drive Forward Foundation in their mentoring programme; my background is in recruitment and these last 6 months I have been studying and training as a Life Coach. 

We are surely going through a challenging moment and there is a lot of uncertainty, doubts, fears and confusion, which is all totally understandable. However, I am confident that after this winter we will experience a spring full of fresh starts and new, positive challenges. For sure, future employment will be a different world as we will have learnt, for example, that a lot of work can be done from home and the concept of going to the office everyday will be reviewed. Also, this is the moment to be creative and to brainstorm ideas to discover different ways to engage ourselves in the market, all the resources we need are within ourselves. 

Mentoring in lockdown – it is possible and it works! 

I started volunteering as a mentor just 2 weeks before the government announced the lockdown in the UK and I knew it wouldn’t be possible to meet my mentee, that’s why I proposed them to replace meetings with video calls and they were happy with the idea. Although I am aware that it would be much better to be together in a physical environment as the human touch is important, what I am also experiencing is that showing presence and attention as a mentor is the fundamental thing, regardless of the way we use to communicate. I consider the technological tools we have as a blessing in this situation, in particular for mentors like me who have the precious chance to support young people in this delicate transition phase. 

And now, my top 3 Virtual Mentoring tips from what I’ve learnt so far: 

  1. Video calling is definitely the best way to replace a face-to-face meeting; my suggestion is to book a 60-90 mins slot in your agenda to give plenty of time to your mentee. There can be a lot in their mind especially now and it’s crucial to offer them all the space they need (without us being anxious about the time); 

  1. Maximum focus and attention without being distracted by other things around us, eye contact is fundamental and you want your mentee to understand that you are there with them fully, even behind a screen. In short, it is your attitude that can make a huge difference; 

  1. Be particularly ready to deal with emotional swings (as it is natural in these circumstances) and again, your attitude and energy can be a huge support in this sense; the major challenge is to keep motivation high and it could be helpful to explore what makes your mentee happy (even a hobby); start from there and encourage creativity. 

Finally, a “Bonus tip”: As mentors, we need to keep our attitude as positive as possible to be able to pass it on to our mentees. I know it is challenging now but together with presence and care, it is the best gift we can offer them. At the end of the day, the only constant in life is change, we need to adapt and adjust accordingly and that is a massive learning to share with our young people. Smiling is the key. 

Thank you and stay safe! 

Feeling inspired? Get in touch with Tara to find out more about how to become a trained mentor and help care-experienced young people find their way in the world.

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