Over the years ABCN programs have been made possible by our wonderful volunteer mentors. Last month at ABCN’s End of Year event in Melbourne, Gemma Court from Stockland was awarded a 2018 Super Mentor Award in recognition of completing ten or more sustained ABCN programs as a mentor. This is an enormous achievement and something that we at ABCN and our students are very thankful for.
Mentoring students in an ABCN program is an incredibly rewarding experience, and we spoke to Gemma about why she keeps coming back to volunteer on ABCN programs.
Why did you initially volunteer to be a mentor on and ABCN program?
I’ve always enjoyed volunteering and mentoring as a way of giving back to the community. So when I saw that Stockland offered the ABCN program, and allowed us to attend during work hours, it was a no-brainer for me. When I first started as a mentor for ABCN over 5 years ago, my job at Stockland was not a people manager so I saw it as an opportunity to learn mentoring and coaching skills to help in my own career pathway. I even acted as Facilitator of the GOALS program for 2 years which helped my own presentation skills. For the last 2 years, I have been in a people manager role, and I do think there are elements of empathy and encouragement that I learnt through the ABCN program that I now apply in my day to day work.
You’ve mentored on many ABCN programs. Is there any particular student who has made an impact on you?
Most have experienced personal hardship, but they all want to be better versions of themselves. I remember one of the first female students I had been working with as part of the GOALS program was usually very reserved during our time together. Then one day, she came bouncing into a session and was SO excited to tell me that she stood up in front of the whole school assembly to summarise a special excursion she took part in. She said that she couldn’t believe that she had the confidence to do it, and that I had definitely helped her gain that confidence. I never thought I would have such a significant impact on these kids in such a short time but it’s so refreshing to see them stepping outside of their comfort zone and striving so hard to reach their potential.
What do you find to be the most enjoyable or rewarding aspect about the mentoring experience?
It’s always the final sessions where the students are invited to say a few words about what they enjoyed about the program and think they have learnt. I’m always amazed at their progress, and how they can articulate what they have learned and what they intend to do with their new skills. It’s the sort of thing that as a young person, I would have loved to participate in and so I’m only too happy to provide this opportunity for young people today. It’s low effort, big impact. And with the support and encouragement from my workplace to participate, it’s easy to come back year after year.
What do you learn from mentoring?
I have definitely learned to listen better and ask the right questions to help the students get to the answer themselves – skills I now use in my people manager role at Stockland. I have also learned that the next generation of young people, who will join the workforce in the coming years, have fierce determination which makes me excited for the future.
If you were talking to someone who had never mentored before, what advice would you give to them?
Congratulations to all of our 2018 Super Mentor recipients, we’re looking forward to seeing you in new programs in 2019! If you would like to know more about what it’s like to mentor on an ABCN program please take a look at this video or contact your ABCN company champion.
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