Blog: upReach Alumnus Bhagya on his journey from Associate to Mentor

Bhagya Silva is an upReach and Exeter University alumnus. He is currently on the Civil Service Fast Stream Programme, having previously completed their Summer Diversity Internship Programme in the Department of Health whilst he was an upReach Associate.

Why did you sign up to become a mentor with upReach?

There are few things more fulfilling than supporting someone to reach their full potential and there are few ways more effective of doing so than regular 1-to-1 mentoring.

When I was an upReach associate, I benefited immensely from two mentors, who helped me develop the self-confidence to believe I could succeed and hone the professional skills to make that belief a reality. Passing on this knowledge is not only gratifying, it’s a welcome break from my day job.

Have you encountered any challenges whilst being an upReach mentor?

Many upReach associates won’t have benefited from a privileged upbringing. Consequently, many won’t have had the years of developing their professional soft skills like self-confidence and public speaking that this entails. Therefore, the biggest challenges of mentoring are helping your mentee to realise just how capable they are of succeeding in their professional ambitions, no matter how challenging those are, and the preliminary stages of developing their soft skills.

What do you find particularly fulfilling in your mentor role?

I like seeing my mentee’s confidence grow and observing their development as they go from strength to strength with each mentoring meeting and professional application. I like the fact that you build a professional relationship with your mentee over time: you get to know them as an individual and you learn how to tailor your mentoring to satisfy their individual development needs and personality. Finally, I liked the feeling of seeing my mentee secure the grad job that, only a few months ago, they believed was out of their reach.

Has the experience of being a mentor supported your own professional development?

Mentoring is an invaluable opportunity for me to develop line management skills. It is also regarded very positively by my manager as an excellent corporate contribution. My upReach mentoring is actually one of my corporate objectives, which I’m assessed on at the end of every six-month rotation.

What would you say to other upReach Alumni who are considering mentoring upReach Associates?

I graduated from university last summer. Given this, I was concerned about whether I would be qualified enough to mentor someone. What I realised is that, while my career has a long way to go, I can still pass on the skills I’ve learnt so far – skills that are already helping my new mentee to reach his potential.

For more information on becoming an upReach Mentor, contact laura@upreach.org.uk.

With thanks to Bhagya Silva for sharing his experiences.

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