Thanks to the overwhelming support from volunteers from various business sectors, Ark’s Alumni team was able to provide an ‘Industry Mentor’ to more than 120 young people in 2020/21.
Students were able to gain vital support, helping them to navigate and adapt to remote working, develop their professional skills and research a range of career paths available to them as part of our Beyond Ark support programme.
Maia Madhvani, Alumni Engagement Manager, said: “We aim to ensure that all of our students can access the university or career of their choice. We also want to minimise the ongoing challenges they may face once they have left our schools, so we provide continued support through our alumni network. We know that it is simply not enough to get students to a great university or apprenticeship.
“That is why programmes like Beyond Ark exist, so young people get the support they need to stay on at university, complete their degree and access the career of their choice. We could not have run the initiative without the Industry Mentors, and we cannot thank them enough for giving up their time, sharing their experiences and expertise to help our young people.”
The team are now looking for mentors to join the 2021/22 scheme. We know that the ongoing economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will affect young people and we have already started to see this impacting our students’ long-term destinations, with opportunities for internships and work experience reduced by 50% since 2019.
We have also seen a considerable increase in the ongoing need for pastoral support once our students have left their school.
A report by The Sutton Trust found that the biggest worry for university students was gaining skills and experience needed for employment while juggling the shift back and forth to virtual learning and balancing financial concerns that the pandemic has exacerbated.
There is a genuine concern that the drop-out rates at university may increase, with 10% of students from a working-class background surveyed saying it was unlikely that they would complete this academic year.
Below is some feedback from Industry Mentors and mentees:
‘It's been wonderful to be able to help my mentee to think about her future, especially through such a challenging year. She is managing a huge amount of stress and responsibility and it's so rewarding to know that our sessions help in some small way to help create space for her to think, reflect and just share how she is feeling.” (Chloe, Multiverse, Mentor)
"I've really enjoyed connecting with someone outside of my work sphere. It's great to be able to hear someone else's experience and perspective. She seems receptive to the discussion and suggestions I make." (Becky, M&S, Mentor)
“I’m really enjoying talking to someone who is in a similar position to the one I was in a few years ago and being able to offer advice and support. It has been a real boost and a lovely thing to do during lockdown and made me feel really connected to the alumni. It has also given me a better sense of what younger people in education are feeling at the moment, which is a great help in my role.” (Emily, Ark, Mentor)
“It’s been going great! With my mentor’s support, I’m more marketable and have had loads of assistance with opportunities for placements and work experience.” (Mentee)
“The programme has helped me to identify transferable skills that I have which I’ll be able to use post-university. I’ve really enjoyed having someone who has been in the industry for several years give me guidance on how to make my first career steps.” (Mentee)
The video below highlights the experiences of Industry Mentors and alumni. If you are interested in signing up as a mentor and supporting our alumni from September 2021, please complete this short sign up form by 31st August or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to the 2020/21 industry mentors:
- Benevolent AI
- Cabinet Office
- Carphone Warehouse
- Competition and Markets Authority
- Department for Education
- Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust
- Mace Group
- Marks and Spencer
- Marshall Wace
- McKinsey & Co/QuantumBlack
- NatWest Group PLC
- Procter & Gamble
- South Essex College
- The English-Speaking Union
- The Grove
- Trowers & Hamlins
- Vietnamese Coffee House, Kitchen & Bar