We are always keen to hear your mentoring stories and share them with the wider Sussex community. Through sharing your experiences we can promote mentoring and inspire others to seek or become mentors.
You can share your story with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Sussex student Muriam Bi (International Development BA) and alumnus Jon Rosser (Geography 1973) began their mentoring relationship in 2021 on Sussex Connect as part of our pilot mentoring programme.
Left: Mentee Muriam exploring Seven Sisters. Right: Mentor Jon Rosser
Jon is currently Chief Executive of World Child Cancer, a charity supporting children in lower and middle income countries to get treatment and care. He has been in this role for seven years and will be retiring shortly. Previously, Jon has had a number of roles in social housing and the charity sector and is also Chair of the Board of the Single Homeless Project, a charity for rough sleepers.
Before starting on the programme, Muriam, who is a mature student, said she did not feel very confident in securing a job in the charity and development sector: “I suffer from low self-esteem and felt I did not have the necessary skills and experience to get a job in my chosen profession once I graduated and this made me feel quite anxious. The development and charity sector is very competitive and I was worried.”
During the mentoring programme, Muriam and Jon were able to meet online and in person as Jon lives locally to the area. Jon was able to provide Muriam with educational and professional support, as well as offering guidance on the personal issues that can come alongside studying.
Muriam said she “gained so much” from their relationship and “the experience exceeded [her] expectations”. As a mentor Jon said he, “found it inspiring to work with someone full of energy and determination to make her way into the world of work”.
You can read about their mentoring experience below.
What made you apply for the mentoring programme?
Muriam: “I applied because I thought it would be beneficial for me to have a mentor already in the field I wanted to have a career in. Someone to help guide and advise me on how to best prepare for a role in the development sector.
I thought it would also be great to get an insight into the sector, some recommended career paths and guidance on working internationally as that is a goal of mine.”
Jon: “About 18 months ago I moved back to Brighton and decided that I wanted to look for ways to contribute in the local community here. A newsletter from Sussex describing the mentoring programme caught my eye and I was interested in giving it a go.”
What have you gained from your mentoring relationship?
Muriam: “I have gained so much from the mentoring relationship. My confidence has increased and so has my self-esteem. My mentor allowed me to see that I do have the necessary skills and experience to secure a career in the sector and gave me the motivation to seek out opportunities to gain more experiences. The relationship taught me to believe in myself and achieving my goals.
As well as education and professional support my mentor was very helpful with supporting me with personal issues. Having someone to talk to openly was a great relief for me during difficult periods whilst studying.
My mentor also gave me feedback on my CV and helped me apply for an internship.”
Jon: “I have found it inspiring to work with someone full of energy and determination to make her way into the world of work and with such passion, commitment and optimism, that it has given me more energy!”
Muriam at Seven Sisters with fellow students that she met through the University's Buddy Scheme.
The relationship taught me to believe in myself and achieve my goals.” Muriam bi
international development BA
Muriam working at a University of Sussex Open Day.
What would you say to someone considering a mentoring relationship?
Muriam: “I would say… go for it and apply to the programme!
The experience exceeded my expectations and I have gained a lot more from it than what I imagined. Although the mentoring programme has officially ended for me, my mentor and I decided to continue the mentoring relationship, which is amazing as I need support in different ways as I progress with my degree and graduation.”
Do you have any advice for recent graduates and students thinking of approaching a mentor?
Jon: “Life is full of people telling us what to do and that never changes I'm afraid! However, the joy of mentoring is to have someone on your side but only to help you find your answers - not to tell you what they are! So, I would seize the opportunity but to make the best of it be clear as you start what is the problem or issue you want to think through. And if someone isn’t right for you once you get to know them, it is fine to say so.”
While Muriam and Jon met through the Global Mentoring Programme, you don’t need the University to organise mentoring relationships on your behalf. You can find your own mentor on Sussex Connect. Simply create an account, search for alumni already in the industry you’re interested in and send them a message. Make sure to look out for those who say they are ‘Willing to help’.