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My volunteering experience: Max from PwC

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Max is a Associate Technology Consultant at PwC in Leeds and has recently completed a PwC-funded programme of volunteering with Ahead Partnership as a mentor for secondary school students. For #VolunteersWeek he tells us about his experience and why he recommends organisations and their employees take part in these social value programmes.

Mentoring has been something I have done at school and at University so when the opportunity came up to do it again at PwC I was extremely keen. I find it really rewarding to help others and tell them about my experiences, but I also find it really valuable and learn a lot from it myself.

Education is such an important part of growing up and so if I can help to contribute to the accessibility of any aspect of education or talk to young people about their career pathways or the brilliant opportunities at PwC then I will always try put myself forward to do so!

Before taking part I expected the mentoring to be in person - but sadly because of Covid restrictions we were limited as to how much we could meet in person. I was wondering how it was going to work online but Ahead Partnership have designed the programme really well and doing it virtually was easy. Ahead Partnership also gave us training in how to be a great mentor so I felt confident and supported from the start.

During mentoring sessions Ahead Partnership's facilitator, Suzie, would kick us all off with a discussion or whole class-led activity and then we'd break out into smaller groups of around 6 students and 2 mentors from PwC. In these sessions we'd have to build on what Suzie had run through. Themes focused around resilience, workplace skills and preparing for interview situations to help the young people involved feel more confident and capable of building a strong future beyond school.

The only challenging aspect was making sure we didn't get too distracted at times and stayed on task! However, this was never too much of an issue because the students had some interesting questions and it helped us develop a better relationship. Learning more about each other allowed the students and mentors to feel more comfortable when sharing with the group the work they had done during the sessions.

I feel that I learned a lot about how to interact in a school setting appropriately and how best to talk about my own experiences without making it too personal. The best thing about being a mentor was having a good laugh with the students while engaging with them on valuable topics and seeing how switched on they are!

If anyone is considering taking part in an Ahead Partnership programme as a mentor then I'd say definitely do it! It doesn't take much time and the young people are really engaging and humorous which made it an enjoyable hour each week. I am so grateful to PwC for funding this programme and making space for us to take part. It was such a valuable experience for me and the students - and has made a huge impact on all of our futures.

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