Looking for work experience? Boost your employability by becoming an academic mentor

Last updated: 21 Jun 2023, 15:41

If you’re worried about a skills gap on your CV, consider becoming an academic mentor with the National Tutoring Programme.

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The National Tutoring Programme

Academic tutor and student

Academic mentors are placed in schools by the National Tutoring Programme to help pupils reach their academic potential.

For detailed information about what it’s like to work as an academic mentor, and when and how to apply, see our overview of the academic mentoring programme.

Will being an academic mentor help my application for teacher training?

Undoubtedly. If you decide you would like to pursue teaching as a career, there is no doubt that your experience as an academic mentor will boost your chances of success when applying for teacher training <link to teacher training article>. The teacher training application form (known as the Apply form) requires you to write a personal statement, divided into two sections, asking 'Why do you want to be a teacher?' and ‘Why are you suited to teach your subjects or age group?’. If you’ve spent time as an academic mentor and enjoyed it, you’ll definitely be able to draw on your experiences and answer these questions well.

What about applications for other graduate roles?

We have identified the top ten skills that will help you get a job when you graduate , and the good news is that being an academic mentor will develop most of the key skills employers seek such as:

  • Organisation – through preparing lesson plans and individual lessons, and being on time for those, you’ll develop great organisational skills.
  • Teamworking – you’ll be working with teachers, other support staff and your pupils to achieve common and individual goals.
  • Leadership – your pupils will look to you to guide them, so over time you’ll develop the qualities of a good leader: decisiveness, adaptability, emotional intelligence and the ability to set goals.
  • Empathy – your pupils may have gone through or be going through difficult situations at home which have impacted their learning, so being empathetic is essential.
  • Negotiation and persuasion – young people are not always in the mood to learn! You’ll find your influencing skills will grow throughout your time as an academic mentor.
  • Problem solving – you may realise that a pupil is not responding to one method of tutoring, so you’ll need to come up with an alternative that will suit them better.
  • Perseverance and motivation – some days will be more challenging than others, and you’ll develop techniques to persevere even under difficult circumstances, motivating not just your pupils but yourself too.
  • Ability to work under pressure – you’ll learn how to keep cool in stressful situations (every job will have some!).

How do I demonstrate these skills to employers?

We have a wealth of information about how to demonstrate your skills during the application process to employers, and at interviews and assessment centres .

As an example, if an employer asked you to describe a time when you demonstrated emotional intelligence or empathy, you could talk about how you communicated with a pupil (and taught them) who was going through a difficult time due to factors outside school. Ryan Mugera, a current academic mentor, says that one of the successes he’s most proud of was supporting a student who was grieving: ‘In the midst of this, he went on to continually excel in his learning through achieving awards in various year group assemblies, consistently achieving his target grades and striving to be the best student that he can be for himself and those around him.’

What are other employability benefits of becoming an academic mentor?

As an academic mentor, you’ll also develop excellent communication skills – the ability to speak with a wide range of people, diverse in age and background – especially if, as Ryan suggests, you are proactive in embedding yourself into the life of the school in as many ways as possible. ‘This can be carried out by supporting or organising extracurricular activities within the school, and attending parent and pastoral meetings,’ he says. Being comfortable communicating with people may seem like a basic skill, but it’s one highly valued by graduate employers and takes practice.

Finally, being an academic mentor is a challenging job with a lot of responsibility. You’ll be building your confidence (one of the top ten skills mentioned above) and resilience each day, which will be a great advantage to you whatever career path you choose to take.

The National Tutoring Programme

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This describes content that has been written and edited in close collaboration with the organisation, which has funded the feature; it is advertising. The content has been written by targetjobs editors but the organisation has provided content, contributors and instruction and has approved the content.

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