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Frequently asked questions

About professional mentoring

What is professional mentoring?

Our Professional Mentoring puts each mentee in regular contact with a qualified professional working in a sector or industry related to the student’s subjects or career aspiration. Mentors are experienced individuals drawn from a wide range of sectors and industries. They work on a one-to-one basis to help mentees develop vital employability skills and increase their awareness of workplace requirements.

Mentoring involves a range of learning and development activities, however, a number of consistent characteristics typify effective mentoring. The definitions below help to illustrate these:

‘A one-to-one, non-judgemental relationship in which an individual mentor voluntarily gives time to support and encourage another. This relationship is typically developed at a time of transition in the mentee’s life, and lasts for a significant ad sustained period of time’.

(Home Office, Active Community Unit, 2001)

"off-line help by one person to another in making significant transitions in knowledge, work or thinking." (Megginson and Clutterbuck)

"support, assistance, advocacy or guidance given by one person to another in order to achieve an objective or several objectives over a period of time" (SOVA).

What is Widening Participation?

Widening Participation activities aim to increase participation in higher education by under-represented groups. WP aims to:

  • Raise aspirations
  • Encourage applications from a wider range of students
  • Ensure successful continuation and completion of studies.

There are many young adults with the academic potential to enter higher education who, for a variety of reasons, do not currently apply to study at university. Professional mentoring aims to provide additional support to undergraduates from backgrounds without a tradition of progression into higher education. 

Widening Participation students meet one or more of the following eligibility criteria:

  • are the first generation of family to enter higher education (HE)
  • have experienced serious disruption to formal education e.g. refugees, asylum seekers or students who have recently learnt English
  • are eligible for a full or partial maintenance HE grant
  • come from low-income areas with low participation in HE
  • have studied vocational courses
  • are mature students (25+)
  • have a disability
  • are Local Authority care leavers.

What are our aims of professional mentoring?

  • To improve the employability of our undergraduates and to encourage students to gain graduate level employment.
  • To build self-esteem and confidence in applying for jobs and to develop interview skills.
  • To assist our students in setting and working towards their career goals.
  • To give undergraduates an insight into a particular industry or sector.
  • To enable us to build links with graduate employers.

What is Brunel professional mentoring for WP students?

Professional Mentoring for WP students is one of the our two mentoring strands. WP Professional Mentoring caters for students from a WP background. The programme is managed by our Widening Participation team. Mentors are recruited, trained and inducted for this programme by the WP team and meet their mentee at a combined launch event held on campus in November, involving mentors and mentees from both mentoring strands.

What is EMUS?

The Ethnic Minority Undergraduate Scheme (EMUS) is one of our two Professional Mentoring strands. The scheme is part of a national programme developed by the National Mentoring Consortium (NMC) for undergraduates from ethnic minority backgrounds. Mentors for EMUS are recruited and trained by the NMC. Mentees joining this programme are inducted by the NMC and meet their mentor at a combined launch event held on campus in November, involving mentors and mentees from both mentoring strands.

How long is the programme?

Both of our Professional Mentoring strands run from November to May. Mentors and mentees are introduced at the programme launch event in November and meet on a monthly basis until May the following year. In May mentoring pairs are invited to an end of programme celebration and award ceremony, held on campus.

What are the important dates and events for the programme?

To see the key dates for your diary go to our mentoring pgrammes page.

Who co-ordinates our mentoring programmes?

Our Mentoring Co-ordinator is Bertie Ross. He is responsible for managing both strands of Professional Mentoring:

  • Widening Participation
  • EMUS Ethnic Minority Undergraduate Scheme

What happens at the end of the programme?

The end of the programme is marked by a celebration and award Ceremony held in May at the University. Mentoring pairs that have successfully completed the programme receive a certificate presented by a special guest to recognise their commitment and achievement. Nominations for best mentee and mentor are processed during the programme and announced at the ceremony. Some mentors and mentees agree to maintain informal contact by email or phone beyond the programme close, which enables a mentor to adopt a less structured relationship and act as a ‘professional friend’ to their mentee.


Applying for the mentoring programme

How can I join the programme?

Follow the link on our mentoring webpage or contact the Mentoring Co-ordinator if you experience any problems.

Which students are eligible to join Brunel's mentoring programme?

Only ‘undergraduate home UK’ students from a widening participation background and/or from an ethnic minority background are eligible to take part in the programme.


About our mentors

What are mentors expected to do?

Mentors are expected to meet their mentee on a monthly basis and to contribute to the career and personal development of their mentee by:

  • Discussing career choices and options;
  • Encouraging their mentee to talk about their ambitions and hopes for the future;
  • Helping the mentee to identify their skills, abilities and qualities ;
  • Building confidence and assisting the mentee to improve any areas of weakness;
  • Giving advice about graduate recruitment schemes ;
  • Providing advice about job applications and producing an effective CV;
  • Providing opportunities to develop interview skills;
  • Giving an insight into a particular industry;
  • Drawing on their own professional network for informed guidance and signposting;
  • Encouraging them to make full use of the University’s Professional Development Centre (PDC).

What other activities and events can mentors support?

Mentors can elect to participate in mentee career development workshops, mock interviews and networking events. Details of these opportunities will be available after training.

Is the mentoring relationship confidential?

Mentors and mentees are expected to maintain a mutually acceptable level of confidentiality. This will mean that the vast majority of personal information shared in meetings and email/phone exchanges is kept private. However, both mentor and mentee are able to seek advice from the Mentoring Co-ordinator if they have a concern or experience any difficulties.

Which employers are involved?

Mentors are volunteers drawn from a wide range of professions in both the private and public sector. Some are locally based, and others are located in and around central London. The list below includes some of the employers that have provided mentors for the programme in the past. Participating employers may vary each year.

Acorn Resource Services House of Commons
American Express Houses of Parliament - Department of Information Services
AToS Innovative Carbon Limited
AWE (Atomic Weapons Establishment) Intercontinental Hotels Group
Back on Track IAPT Service International Cricket Council
Balfour Beatty Jaguar Land Rover
Barclays Bank PLC Job Centre Plus
Barclays Corporate John Lewis
BE Styled UK JP Morgan Chase and Co
Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP KPMG LLP
Betfair Ltd L B Barnet and CAFCASS
BLC Property Services L B of Hillingdon
British Gas Landor Associates
BSkyB LB Waltham Forest
Business Centric Services Group Le Matais Consulting
Capacity for Change Limited Life Balance Options
Capgemini Linklaters
Channel 4 L'Oreal UK
Cisco M&Spark
Citigroup Microlink
Comic Relief Mitie
Conde Nast Publications New Edge
Coutts & Co Office of the Public Guardian
Culture 360 OK2 Limited
Debraux Consulting Ltd Olympic Delivery Authority
Deloitte PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
Department of Work and Pensions Pursuit NHA International
Drayton Finch Randstad
Ealing Children and Families, SAFE Service Royal Bank of Scotland
Employers' Forum on Disability Royal College of Nursing
Enterprise Rent A Car Santander UK Plc
Evo-Soft Limited Sketch
Foreign Office Slough Borough Council Education & Children's Services
Freshfields SNA Secretarial
Fujitsu UK Ltd Talk Talk
GlaxoSmithKline The Electoral Commission
Goodman Masson Universal Edition (London) Ltd
Gordon Yates University for the Creative Arts
Haart Estate Agents University of London
HM Revenue & Customs Wolsley UK Ltd
HM Treasury

How are mentees and mentors matched?

Every effort is made to match mentees with a mentor that can provide relevant advice, information and guidance in relation to the mentee’s career aspirations and degree subject. Information provided by mentors and mentees as part of the application process is used as a basis for a suitable pairing. The process also takes into account any personal preferences that individuals identify as important. It is worth bearing in mind that although mentors may now be employed by a particular employer, their work history often includes posts in other industries and sectors. Mentors can also draw on their network of colleagues to connect their mentee to individuals with experience and knowledge in specific areas.

Are mentors trained?

Yes. All mentors are required to undergo full training and they receive a mentor handbook and other career guidance information. Training covers the following main topics:

• Helping mentors develop confidence about managing the role of a mentor;

• Confidentiality and managing personal and professional boundaries;

• An introduction to the aims of the scheme and its ground rules;

• An introduction to the principles of mentoring and coaching;

• Tips on questioning techniques and how to conduct an effective mentoring meeting

• Identifying and examining the main qualities and skills needed to become an effective mentor;

• Developing the skills necessary to build rapport, trust and a good working relationship with a mentee.


Mentor meetings

Where will meetings take place?

Although mentors and mentees are free to make their own arrangements, they tend to meet at the mentor’s workplace. It is important to confine your meeting venues to places that reflect the professional nature of the mentoring relationship. Mentees can claim reimbursement of travel expenses. Contact the Mentoring Co-ordinator for details.

How often do mentors and mentees meet?

Mentors and mentees aim to meet on a monthly basis at the mentor’s workplace. This means meeting on six or seven occasions between November and May including the first meeting at the launch event and the end of programme award ceremony.

How much time do I need to allow for meetings?

Mentoring meetings should be scheduled for one to two hours. Allow 15-30 minutes for preparation and follow up for each meeting. Additional time for emailing and phone calls should be added. It is estimated that over the period of the programme, mentoring will take up approximately 2.5- 4 hours per month. This includes training, midterm evaluation and the end of programme award ceremony. These times apply to both mentors and mentees. Mentees should allow additional time for travelling to and from the mentor’s workplace.


Making the most of the programme

What are mentees expected to do?

Mentees make a commitment to:

• Work with a mentor from November to May

• Meet their mentor at their work place on a monthly basis and maintain contact between meetings by email and telephone;

• Attend induction training, career development events, an evaluation meeting and the end of programme award ceremony;

• Agree an action plan with their mentor and update it regularly;

• Respond to correspondence in connection with the programme, including evaluation questionnaires;

• Write a short review at the end of the scheme;

• Notify their mentor in advance if they are unable to attend a meeting;

• Keep the University Mentoring Co-ordinator informed of any concerns or difficulties or missed meetings.

How do mentees get the best from the mentoring programme?

Successful mentees take an active role in the mentoring relationship to maximise the input of their mentor. A mentee may be aiming to achieve a number of things with the help of their mentor, so it is important for a mentee to take some time to write down a few initial thoughts on what they want to achieve. These can be discussed at the first meeting. 

Mentees gain most from mentoring when they use the action planning form throughout the programme. The action planning form is a tool that helps identify key objectives and maps the route, timescale and types of support needed to deliver the outcomes they prioritise.

Mentors agree to join the project for many different reasons, but whatever their individual motivation, they will be encouraged by a mentee’s that is enthusiastic and a committed to meeting regularly.

Do’s and don’ts

Do. . .

• Attend the induction briefing on how to get the best from mentoring;

• Agree convenient times to meet and/or email/phone;

• Consider carefully any actions that may be misinterpreted ;

• Accept increasing responsibility for managing the relationship;

• Record plans for key objectives on the action planning form;

• Prepare an exit plan for the end of the mentoring relationship;

• Seek advice from the Mentoring Co-ordinator if a problem arises.

Don’t. . .

• Become dependent on the mentor;

• Expect the mentor to know all the answers;

• Be over demanding on your mentor’s time.

What do I do if things are not working out?

Although the vast majority of mentoring relationships run relatively smoothly, some partnerships encounter difficulties. This can be as a result of changing circumstances such as a new job or increased workload, relocation or a ‘clash of personalities’. In all cases it is vital to alert the University’s Mentoring Co-ordinator at the earliest opportunity to any problems or concerns. 

Some mentoring pairs find it easy to strike up a good rapport during the first meeting. In other cases it takes a little longer to get to know each other. Establishing a good relationship can take different routes, and mentors and mentees that focus on what they would like to achieve from mentoring (specific goals) tend to build rapport quicker. The best partnerships rely on commitment from both parties, and mentoring is no different.