My online short work placement: ReachOut

What is the main thing that employers look for when hiring? The answer that springs to my mind is experience. I knew that I needed more experience to boost my CV and so applying for a work placement seemed like the right way to go. At first, I was unsure about where to look and I started emailing local charities and organisations. With COVID-19 restrictions, many charities were reducing the number of visitors into their establishments and so I decided to adapt to the pandemic and look for online placements.

Introducing me to mentoring

ReachOut is a mentoring charity that gives young people from disadvantaged backgrounds weekly one-to-one support from a volunteer mentor. This appealed to me because I love working with children and really wanted to help make a positive difference to their lives. I applied to volunteer and managed to get myself booked onto sessions with year 6’s at a primary school in Liverpool. With mentoring being online, this was beneficial for me because I wouldn’t have been able to commute to Liverpool for our sessions, which I was very grateful for.

Our sessions placed great emphasis on the four Character Strengths that are needed to help young people make good choices and be successful — these are Staying Power, Good Judgement, Fairness and Self-Control. All of our sessions involved games and tasks that encouraged these character strengths to be adopted. I learnt that when taking on the role of introducing and describing which game we would play at the start of the session, I experienced improvements in my confidence and the learning outcomes for the mentees. I therefore made it my mission to volunteer to introduce the games each session, in hope to enhance my self-development. The curriculum task changed each week, but my favourite was descriptive writing where I helped my mentee (Tara*) write a story about Charlie the talking cat.

Tara* and I bonded really well, and we found many common interests, such as our love for gymnastics, art and music. My sessions with Tara* taught me to be patient and encouraging when her focus was disrupted. I also learnt that I had underestimated the impact of ReachOut on the young people, this was demonstrated in our last session when they were all so sad to leave — it was a really bittersweet moment because I was so proud of all of the mentees for taking part yet upset to see them go. I was particularly proud of Tara* because initially she had been quite shy and distracted, however by the end of the programme she was much more confident in herself and she told me how myself and ReachOut had helped her overcome her fears of public speaking.

In the future I will definitely be tempted to mentor again and focus on building relationships with all ReachOut members, including other mentors.

*name changed for anonymity



21-Year-Old Psychology student studying @ The University of Manchester.

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21-Year-Old Psychology student studying @ The University of Manchester.