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“I joined City Year with minimal confidence in my ability and I am now leaving feeling empowered.”

Simran is a City Year Mentor serving on Team Joy, in the West Midlands, 2022-2023.  

I joined City Year as a student mentor during my placement year. At the beginning of my City Year experience, I did not expect my journey and growth to be as rewarding and profound as it has been. Reflecting on my year of service, I joined City Year with minimal confidence in my ability and I am now leaving feeling more empowered.

City Year has allowed me to develop skills and confidence that I once did not think I had. Through the Leadership Development Programme, I have had multiple opportunities to focus on my personal and professional development, which will benefit me when I leave City Year. For example, my Red Talk was an experience that stands out to me, as this was the moment where I realised how far I had come with my public speaking and confidence. I had to deliver a five-minute presentation, which was a daunting thought for me at the time as I did not think public speaking was my strength. The topic I chose was fashion and changing trends.

On the day of my Red Talk, I remember feeling anxious and having little confidence in my ability to present. After the first few seconds of my presentation, my nerves began to settle as my chosen topic was something I was really passionate about. The main reason for my nervousness was mainly the thought of forgetting what I was planning to say, or stumbling over my words. But, in the end, I actually enjoyed speaking on a topic that was familiar to me and that I’m interested in. After delivering my Red Talk I felt a sense of achievement. This was a pinnacle moment and helped me recognise how far my personal growth has been throughout this year.

Before City Year, I never imagined I could present to a small group let alone the whole West Midlands cohort of City Year Mentors. My growth has stemmed from development sessions, and support from both staff at City Year and my team. As a result of these opportunities – and because I have constantly pushed myself this year through leading projects such as our Culture Day celebrations – I now have more self-belief in my capabilities.

The lessons I’ve learned in development sessions have also enhanced my service in schools, particularly my 1-on-1 mentoring sessions with pupils. For example, the CMI qualification in Coaching and Mentoring has provided me with further skills and insights on effective mentoring methods, such as using SMART goals. I was able to implement this knowledge in my sessions with students and help them create their own goal planners for their school journey.

As City Year Mentors, we see first-hand the positive impact mentoring sessions have on a student’s experience of school – and this is the most rewarding part of the role. This year, I mentored Year 11 students so preparing them for their GCSEs was the main focus of our sessions together. I have seen how 1-to-1 support can be invaluable, and the importance of students having someone there to support them and hear their concerns. With one of my students, we focused on developing skills such as optimistic thinking and personal responsibility, and this has been really beneficial for their behavioural management. This student said how mentoring has “helped me calm my anger at times and use communication better”. Seeing how students develop from the start to the end of the year is inspiring.

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