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Duke of York Group Mentoring Programme - Session Two

This Tuesday, we held the second session of the Duke of York Group Mentoring Programme at UTC Reading.

The project is supported by industry leaders, Microsoft, Cisco, Peter Brett Associates, Thames Water, AWE, Sage, Sage People, and Equinix. 

As part of this programme, each employer provides mentors, who each spend an hour meeting the students four times over the course of the year. The first session, held last month, focused on building trust and rapport between students and mentors.

Tuesday's second session moved into taking a look at technology in depth, whereby mentors described to the students how they experience technology on a day-to-day basis. Students then discussed their specific interest in technology, spurring some interesting conversations.

In the afternoon, the students were invited back for talks from representatives of industry leaders, ARM and Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE). ARM’s Principal Engineer, Jon Black gave a talk on his role within the company and the engineering careers that are possible. Kim Cave-Ayland from CCFE then followed with an interesting talk on CCFEs long-term plan for producing energy for the future, through making stars on earth.

The third session of the mentoring programme, in the New Year, will be focusing on short-term goals, specifically things like assignment deadlines, mock exams, exams, UCAS application and apprenticeship applications.

The fourth and final session of the year will see students being tasked with presenting a technology they are passionate about to the mentors and their peers. This will enable students to practise essential public speaking skills and to showcase areas that they have enjoyed learning most in their current year at UTC Reading.

Here’s what our students had to say about the second session: 

“It was a really worthwhile day; it was great to meet the industry partners again. We got a lot of good advice on what they do and what opportunities there are out there for us in the future.

These programmes are very different to what you'd find at any other school or college, and certainly for me, it's really interesting to find out more about the industry and especially what is relevant to us. I find I’ve learnt things that you wouldn't find on a website… actually getting to meet real people is far more interesting and helpful.”

James Carter, Year 12 Engineering and Maths student

“Today’s session was very engaging and the questions they were asking us were really in-depth.

Our mentors from Microsoft talked to us about the specifics of what they do and then asked us questions about new products in IT. They asked us to justify what we thought was going to be vital technology for the next generation. A lot of the technology we discussed was around quantum computing and virtual reality.

The engagement with both of our mentors was really positive and they were helpful in helping us understand their job roles. This sort of activity is great for getting us all to think about our future careers.”

Lewis James, Year 12 Triple IT BTEC student

...and here's what out mentors had to say:

Mentor, Paul Holloway, Director of Executive Recruitment at Microsoft said:

“The relationships with the students have really developed over the two mentoring sessions. It’s great for us to be able to showcase some of our technologies in a way that helps to educate them. 

We certainly have seen the growth in confidence. I think that what's interesting is that the students’ use of technology is both very personal to them but also is collaborative as well. It’s also quite interesting to see some of the students who are using technology to really push their career forwards, some who are using it more for the social side and others who are using it in a complete collaboration of all of those things. Their passion around technology is great to see.”

Mentor, Penny Sentance, Process Engineer at Thames Water said:

“I thought today was very useful and it was great to hear about the students’ experiences of technology. It was interesting to see how they're using technology at school, and discussing how we might be using it in the future.

I think days such as this are useful as the students can see that what they’re learning can be used in practice, as well as meeting someone from industry, so they can ask questions that they may not be able to ask their teachers.”

Mentor, Harriet Kirk, Talent Acquisition at Sage People said:

“Today's session has been really interesting. I think companies need to get involved with education as students need to be aware of what employers want. It's difficult for teachers to give the most up-to-date information as they usually aren't working in industry.”

  • Active Learning
  • Microsoft
  • Cisco
  • University of Reading
  • Network Rail
  • Peter Brett