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Helping others to take on life’s challenges

Posted on 6th May 2016

The National Mentoring Annual Awards Ceremony took place on 3 May at the beautiful surroundings of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The NMC was set up in the early 1990s to help improve the career prospects of ethnic minority undergraduates after graduation. The NMC mentoring scheme assists those from a disadvantaged background to have a fair chance in competing in the work place.

The platform was shared by Chuka Umunna MP for Streatham and James Caan CBE, Entrepreneur, a former Dragon in the BBC programme ‘Dragon’s Den’.

It was uplifting and inspiring hearing all their experiences as well as those of the mentors and mentees. I was particularly struck by how the mentees, could not have possibly envisaged that they would be speaking in front of a room of nearly 200 people 6 months before when they first enrolled on to the Scheme. That they would be brimming full of confidence and passion about what they had achieved. As a direct result of the help they had received from their mentors they had gone on to change their lives academically as well as socially.

I was privileged to have been asked to speak at this event about my several years of being a mentor with the NMC. I spoke about the challenges I faced as a BME woman in attempting to get a training contract.

My first mentor, I realised had been a friend who was a third generation solicitor and helped me with my interviewing techniques; so after 3 years of attempting to get a training contract I ended up getting the best one at my next interview because, he had encouraged me and believed in me which naturally made me more confident; it was already there but just needed to be coaxed out. That is the role of a good mentor.

Mentees are intelligent people with many skills and as a mentor my role is to empower them so that they can show case their skills whether through their cvs, or interview and eventually in the work place. It’s immensely rewarding for me to see mentees blossomed with newfound confidence. I am delighted that my mentee was awarded mentee of the year and all her hard work on herself is recognised.

When my first ever mentee came to my law offices she exclaimed ‘OMG! This is totally like LA law!’ Now students are being influenced by the ‘Good Wife’ to enter into a profession of law. Whatever sparks an interest in you for your chosen career know that there will always be challenges along the way. Although it’s tempting to shy away from them, to face those challenges enables one to grow from those experiences and look back and see what has been accomplished.

Life is all about challenges and how one chooses to deal with them is up to the individual but if you can have extraordinary responses, then you go on to lead extraordinary lives.

Laila Bhunnoo collects award from NMC

Laila Bhunnoo seen here receiving the Award for ‘New Employer of the Year’ by the NMC.