I signed up to the Student Mentoring Programme because I wanted to find out more about working in the profession, but I also wanted an external mentor who doesn't work in my organisation so I could bounce ideas off them and feel secure in doing so.
I come from a working-class background and, growing up, I didn't even know accountancy was an option for me. It's good to have the support of someone who is experienced and successful in their career. My mentor gives me pointers for where I need to improve, and how I can set up a good career trajectory for myself. I know that my mentor has my back and if I have issues that I can't discuss at work I can go to them instead.
I chose my mentor using the programme's online mentoring platform and during our first virtual meeting found that we had similar backgrounds. We're both working class and immigrants, so we share a few common struggles. I've spoken to my mentor about how they overcame challenges and obstacles. We also talk about whether I enjoy my current role, and if there is anything I can do to supplement it – such as upskilling and preparing myself for the future. Our sessions are confidential.
I meet my mentor regularly, the sessions are planned and blocked out in our diaries in advance. I always show up to these sessions with prepared talking points which my mentor and I discuss.
Since beginning the mentoring programme, I've discovered there are so many opportunities out there – it's been eye-opening, very helpful and I've gained a lot of relevant knowledge. There are two areas in particular where my mentor has added lots of value.
Firstly, they have provided me with a better understanding of potential career trajectories and guided me through the thought processes that will help lead me to the next steps in my career.
On top of that, my mentor has helped my general sense of confidence. I have never been a very confident person, but having someone who is established and objective telling you that what you want to achieve is not impossible is very important.
My mentor has provided me with operational guidance about my job, too. They have given me lots of insight into the softer skills that come with working in the profession, such as navigating professional relationships with colleagues and clients as well as being myself in the office. Those kinds of things aren't really taught in the workplace.
Plus, my mentor has emphasised how important it is to focus on studying really hard and learning as much as I can as a student. And I have really taken that on board. I've changed how I manage my time to ensure I can really focus on my studies.
By taking part in the programme, students can expect to get excellent advice, that they can really act on, from a member who is very accomplished in their career. Being mentored allows students like me to really get the lay of the land in the accounting profession and where the ACA qualification can take them in their careers.
It's also an opportunity for students to get truly impartial support about any sorts of issues they might have. It's a space that allows them to speak openly about things going on at work or during their studies. I'd encourage both members and students to get stuck in.
The ACA Student Mentoring Programme gives students the opportunity to receive valuable insight from an ICAEW Chartered Accountant. Over the six-month mentoring programme, students will receive personalised advice to support their growth, develop their strengths and improve their confidence and performance. Students can choose a mentor using an online mentoring platform Guider. By signing up, setting goals and selecting the skills they want help with, students will be matched by the platform to the most suitable mentor for them.