To have the opportunity to support a student and excite them about the prospect of their own future is something very special to me.
My name is Emily Seager, I’m a Regional Business Development Manager at Lloyds Banking Group. I’ve been mentoring Razia Sobratty at Woodhouse College since 2014 and this year I was awarded Mentor of the Year for the London and South East Region.
Why did you get involved in Career Ready?
Prior to joining Lloyds Banking Group, I was a secondary school English teacher, and from that experience I knew I really enjoyed supporting young people to achieve their goals – particularly those who needed a little more support to realise their full potential.
Thinking back 10 years to when I was at school and college, I was unsure of myself, unconfident, and am sure that some guidance and reassurance would have made a huge difference. To have the opportunity to support a student, to build their self-confidence, open up their eyes to a variety of careers and excite them about the prospect of their own future, is something very special to me.
What has your role involved?
One of the most important aspects of my role was working with Razia on her resilience. In some ways she reminds me of myself when I was her age: keen to succeed, enthusiastic, but also a worrier and self critical at times.
At one of our very first mentoring sessions, I asked Razia what her overarching goal was – her answer was ‘I want to go to a top University to study my passion: Geography.’ When she didn’t get the AS level results she had hoped for, I could see how much this affected her confidence. Immediately, my focus was on ensuring she had a plan to get back on track.
Razia did not give up; applying for the course she has always wanted to study, at the Universities she had set her heart on from the offset. She received offers from four top class Universities, with a plan under her belt to ensure that whatever happens, she achieves her aim.
As I told her, ‘It’s not about how hard you fall, it’s about how fast you get back up and move on...’
Why is Career Ready important?
The Career Ready programme bridges the gap that many young people face when trying to understand the relevance of their education within the context of their future. I am not aware of any other organisation that delivers a career-focussed programme in an effective, structured way, offering such a breadth of experience to students.
Without the experiences that Career Ready provides, many young people would not be able to compete on a level playing field when entering the world of work.
The mentoring element of the programme offers another layer of support. Many young people aren’t sure where to turn when they need advice, and perhaps wouldn’t always feel comfortable speaking to family members or school tutors. I have never underestimated how important it is to be supportive of Razia – she values me as a friend, and that is reciprocated.
Why would you recommend supporting Career Ready to other employers?
Career Ready is designed in such a way that it benefits everyone involved. Students develop their own understanding of the world of work, growing academically, personally and unlocking their potential.
In return, mentors have a sense of achievement, watching and supporting a young person grow, but also I would say that those involved will grow and learn from their mentee as well.
I recommend Career Ready to everyone – I have thoroughly enjoyed my experiences thus far and have had great fun. It has been invaluable.
How does it feel to be recognised as Mentor of the Year?
Throughout the programme, Razia and I built up a fantastic relationship, and I can confidently say that we have both really enjoyed the experience. Whilst mentoring Razia, I feel that I have not only been able to watch her develop, learn new skills, and grow in confidence, but also I have benefitted from the experience myself in similar ways.
The proudest moments for me have been watching Razia interact with others. The difference in her confidence as the year progressed is remarkable. That fills me with immense pride, knowing that I have been influential in building her confidence, knowledge and understanding, and supported her to become someone who tackles challenges with tenacity.
What Razia said about Emily:
Right from the very start, Emily has always been willing to support me in any way she can, taking extra time at every meeting to make sure I’ve understood everything we discussed. She’s given up her free time to help me with my university application and even treated me to dinner to celebrate the end of my internship. She really cares and took the time to get to know me as a person.
Without Emily I wouldn’t have had the confidence to still apply to my first choice university and push my limits. When I’ve tried something new, such as co-hosting Woodhouse College’s Annual Business Networking Event, she has been there to encourage and support me. It has been a lot of fun working with Emily over the year – she is a very important contact and a friend I hope to keep for a very long time.