Academic year 2022/23 is soon upon us – which means we are recruiting again for enthusiastic student mentors for our Bristol Futures Open courses. Applications are open until the 7 September via MyCareer.
In this Digitalk blog, we hear from Freya about her experience as a student mentor on the Bristol Futures Innovation and Enterprise course in academic year 2021/22.
Why did you apply to be Bristol Futures Mentor?
As an Innovation student I was extremely excited to when I saw there was an opportunity to become a Mentor on the Innovation & Enterprise Bristol Futures Open course. It seemed like the perfect part-time role – it would enhance my knowledge of innovation, fit in around my University studies and help me to develop some really valuable and useful skills. Furthermore I’d really enjoyed taking part in the Sustainable Futures course the previous year, and during the course had enjoyed the way that many comments that I posted would get responses, either from academics or mentors or other course participants.
What do you enjoy the most about being a Bristol Futures Mentor?
After a successful application I began working as a Bristol Futures mentor and have just finished my third course run. One of the main things I enjoy about being a Bristol Future Mentors is the interaction that you get to have. All of the people undertaking the course have chosen to do so because they are interested to learn about the subject area, this means they often very keen to discuss and learn more. As a mentor, I enjoy looking at the comments that people have posted and seeing where there are opportunities for them to learn more and stimulate this through a reply with questions. Another enjoyable thing about being a mentor is that you get to have direct input into how the courses are run and make suggestions regarding future improvements and development.
What is the most important skill to have as a Bristol Futures mentor?
Whilst being an Innovation student is helpful to being a mentor on the course, it is definitely not essential. All of the mentors I have worked with are all from different subject backgrounds, which can create an interesting variation in our responses to learners comments. I feel that the most important thing for being a Bristol Futures Mentor is having a passion for the subject area. It doesn’t matter how deeply knowledgeable about the subject area you are, as long as you are willing to have interesting conversations you will do brilliantly. It is due to this that I would highly recommend becoming a Bristol Futures mentor, the opportunity to engage with others who are passionate about the subject area is brilliant.
What advice would you give to new Bristol Futures mentors?
My tips to any future Bristol Future Mentors would be, take your time when interacting with course participants. Taking the time to send a detailed reply to one person with further information about something they’ve discussed is far more likely to stimulate interesting conversation, than simply replying “Great job”. The great thing about the Innovation & Enterprise course, is that a lot of the content is subjective, and learners can express and justify their own opinions. Even if you read a response and personally disagree, rather than directly expressing that you have the opportunity to craft a response full of questions that allow you to engage in a friendly debate with the learner. Some of the best conversations I’ve had on the course have been when I’ve taken the time to really understand what the learner has said and respond to the individual points they have made. Sometimes when you challenge learners, they come back with some really impressive responses.
What have you gained from being a Bristol Futures mentor?
Personally, I have gained a lot of skills from being a Bristol Futures mentor. I think the most important one is written communication and clarity. When I first started the role, I found it quite difficult to craft tailored and specific responses to students and would spend quite a long time replying to comments. However, over working on several course runs I have developed this skill and can now write concise and relevant responses to students with relative ease. This skill is not only important when discussing with learners but also when feeding back information regarding the course run to the academics.
Outside of the course, I now find that I can write more concisely in emails and other communications. Communication is such an important skill and one of the most important ones in an age where interactions are becoming less and less face to face. Therefore it is one of the key skills that employers look for. Being a Bristol Futures mentor is an extremely good example of using communication skills, but alongside it gain knowledge of interesting subject matter and have some brilliant conversations with learners from all around the world.
Interested in becoming a Bristol Futures mentor?
Sign into MyCareer to see the full role description and link to the application form due by the 15 September 2022.
Further information on the Bristol Futures Open courses can be found on the Bristol Futures website.
If you have any further questions, you can e-mail the Bristol Futures team on firstname.lastname@example.org