On National Mentoring Day, a mentor and mentee describe their experiences of Renaisi’s professional mentoring programme and the impact it had on each of them.

A mentor is an individual who acts as a voluntary adviser for a mentee; someone seeking expertise and professional support. Renaisi’s mentor programme is designed to develop the skills of both mentors and mentees, while empowering refugees and other people who are marginalised to thrive in a UK workplace.

Nick Zambellas joined the Renaisi mentoring programme after successfully getting a job at Mott MacDonald. He was looking to help others navigate the tough period of applying for jobs.

Nick hoped to use his knowledge, experience and network to help someone going through the same process.

Nick explains how it went.

“I was matched with Terence, a mid-career finance professional with a good sense of humour and a positive attitude. We quickly established that Terence was looking for positions near to home and was hoping for a role that represented a positive life step.”

Setting career goals

During the sessions, Nick and Terence set goals centred on identifying roles of interest, ensuring CVs and cover letters were well-matched to job descriptions. Initially they had weekly sessions, which they reduced as Terence needed less support.

Leveraging Renaisi’s expertise, alongside that of professional partners, the mentoring programme consists of multiple sessions about application processes, goal setting, skills and network development, and interview techniques.

Nick and Terence also did a mock interview. This was largely to help Terence familiarise himself with UK style interviews – rather than being aimed at solving a particular challenge.

“Renaisi was always there for support and ensured that the process worked for me and my mentee.  Renaisi also sensitively covered duty of care, mental health and wellbeing, and the potential complexities in the mentor-mentee relationship. We shared experiences between mentors to ensure there was a wide understanding of the challenges that come with applications, and different approaches to match to them.”

A typical mentoring session

Because of Nick’s very recent job searching experience, he was able to share advice on how best to prepare for submitting a job application and attending an interview.

Terence explains what the mentoring sessions were like for him.

“Nick provided me with a highly structured approach. He helped fine-tune my CV and covering letters, set up job searching alerts, and connect to potential professional contacts. There were clear notes and action items after each mentoring session. I gained valuable support not only from the technical aspect of applications but also from speaking with Nick as an independent professional about my careers plans and decisions.”


Why become a mentor?

Nick says he would certainly recommend the Renaisi mentoring programme to others.

“You work with great people, use your existing experience, and it is very efficient in terms of hours. I would recommend doing frequent sessions early to get some momentum. Try to learn as much as you can from other mentors. Speak up in meetings and encourage others to do so, to get the most out of each other’s expertise.”

The impact of mentoring

“I believe that I delivered positivity, ideas, and support in choosing a direction. I was able to provide some encouragement and I got satisfaction from knowing I was helping a nice man, and, through the Renaisi support, I formalised and broadened my understanding of the current hiring landscape.”

Thanks to the mentoring programme, Terence fully realised what it takes to obtain employment and the importance of the right approach to job searching, self-presentation and interview preparation. Terence was very pleased to get a job in the finance sector while on the mentoring programme.

“I treasure the support from my mentor Nick who helped me restart my career in the UK.”

Rebecca Spruce