As a programme manager, I facilitate a number of different Springboard Programmes, and I love all of them, but one that has resonated with me the most is possibly the GEMS (Graduate Education Mentoring Scheme) Programme. I finished my degree in 2014 and quite frankly it was one of the proudest moments of my life, for personal reasons completing my degree seemed like an impossible challenge and my dissertation… Well there were a lot of late nights typing with a can of energy juice only fingertips away (I do not advise this method if can be avoided!).
Throughout my degree there were a lot of people I could ask for advice, my mum, my employers my lecturers and other students – but more often than not my questions would lead to more questions that those whom I asked, just didn’t have the answer to. I completed lots of work experience through my degree for lots of different companies, I did a lot of networking – made lots of acquaintances and lots of connections on Linkedin – but I never really had one person to ask the ‘daft’ questions, or obscure questions too or have someone challenge me as to why I was completing sporting event work experience when I have (still don’t) no interest in sport at all. I am incredibly lucky to have the support network that I do but I didn’t have that one person to call a mentor, until I moved down south and started working at the Royal Oak. My mentors at the Royal Oak nurtured my professionalism, taught me about the industry and supported my ideas as well as questioning them – making sure I knew what I was doing before I finalised any decision.
Many of the students undertaking a hospitality degree don’t follow their degree into industry, instead choosing to go elsewhere. The hospitality industry is full to the brim of interesting people, from all over the world, with different stories to tell and sometimes I think the stereotypes that hospitality has seemed to gain over the years masks the greatness of the industry!
By matching undergraduates to some of our industry leaders those stories and experiences can be shared, inspiring a whole new generation. The big bad world is a scary place for any person and for those completing degrees the world becomes their oyster. But with this new found freedom can come uncertainty, fear and anxiety but a mentor can guide, can answer questions, can support in those new situations. I know that if I had had an industry mentor early on in my degree I would’ve taken on more relevant work experience and perhaps found where my skills lie a little earlier in life.
Mentoring is a 2 way thing, for mentors mixing with a student who is perhaps 20 years their junior will show them a different way of thinking to. As well as this it will provide a new focus for their career and someone to inspire that will love to hear their stories.
The GEMS programme is amazing and I am sure that the students that we support through this will be great. But I know Springboard would love to support more – but that’s where we need you. Whether you’re a student, a lecturer, a friend, an industry leader. If when reading this you’ve thought of someone that could benefit from this programme please ask them to get in touch with us – because we would love to help them!
By Andrea Hardy