Lessons learned from the 2018/19 mentoring scheme

At the end of each annual mentoring scheme, the John Schofield Trustees survey the mentees and mentors to find out what they thought of the experience and to try to find ways of making the scheme better.

In 2018/19, thirty mentoring pairs took part in the scheme. Of the 30, 24 mentees were already working in the industry – most of them in the first five years of their journalism career. The remaining six were apprentices at the BBC, Sky News and ITN. Just over half the mentees and around two-thirds of mentors responded to the survey.  

 Opening doors and boosting confidence

 This year, mentees told us they applied to be mentored because of the reputation of the scheme and quality of the mentors; they spoke of their hope that mentoring would open doors and increase their confidence and because they thought they would benefit from getting advice and support from someone more experienced at an early stage in their career. Many also spoke of people in their organisations not having time to help them

Positive experience 

 After the scheme, all those who completed the survey felt mentoring had been positive.

Most said after the mentoring they felt more confident professionally. Many spoke of getting help from with CVs and interview prep. Several said they had got a new job during the year and most said they knew what they now needed to do to further their career. Several appreciated honest feedback from someone outside their own organisation.

Added bonus of Masterclasses

Everyone who completed the survey thought their mentor was an appropriate match; 94% thought the mentoring scheme met their expectations and 88% said they would like to continue having a mentor. One mentee said: “Simply put – it enabled me to pursue my dream career, which without the support of my mentor and the John Schofield Trust, would not have been possible.” Another said mentoring made them consider their “career and … ambitions in a more structured way” and made them “more determined and more ambitious”. And another spoke of the opportunities they had taken advantage of during the year, allowing them to attend “a morning news meeting at a major broadcaster; learn more about what their digital team does; shadow reporters and producers; do paid weekend shadowing shifts on the news desk and learn the ropes enough that they entrusted me to work several weekend shifts myself. I’m going to be doing a week of further training on weekday shifts”. They concluded: “Frankly none of this would ever have been possible without the help of my mentor and the scheme. These introductions and contacts have been invaluable in an industry that can appear very intimidating for someone coming from outside”. Another described the scheme as “so organised and well regarded in terms of the time taken to match mentees and mentors appropriately, the commitment shown by mentors to the scheme and the follow ups by staff and trustees all ensure that the mentoring experience is truly valuable to the mentee.” Several spoke of the added bonus of the Masterclasses, which one mentee described as “a great perk of being on the scheme”.

“I’m jealous of the mentees”

Mentors who responded to the survey were also positive at the end of the year, with almost all of the mentors who responded to the survey saying they had found the experience rewarding.

Almost all stressed how much they had learned from the mentoring experience. One said it had reminded them of how big the world is when you start and how little confidence they had at the start. Several added: “I wish I had had someone to talk to when I first started.” Many mentors spoke of how important they felt it was to stay in touch with the challenges faced by the new generation. One said: “Having a buddy in the system that’s non-judgmental, that can be a bit of a wiser foil to the enthusiasm of youth, that knows how the industry works… I’m jealous of the mentees”.

Several mentors spoke of how much they felt they had learned from the scheme. One described one significant effect of mentoring: “I saw, and through him experienced, what he sometimes faces, the casual racism, the ugly side of bad managers and it was really instructive thinking about how I would cope in those situations… and offer advice.”

 The Trustees are now considering ideas suggested in the survey. One direct result of the enthusiasm shown for Masterclasses has prompted us to plan a day of Masterclasses – so put a note in your diary for Saturday, February 8 – more details to follow shortly.