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What if… we mentor new community members with kindness

A photo of Ilyana wearing a black graduation gown and mortar board with the university campus and blue sky behind

Last month I wrote about the impact of sharing expertise with your community or wider afield. I’m delighted to follow that with this blog from corporate affairs intern, Ilyana Rajwani, sharing details of the kind welcome she received from more experienced colleagues. Another of the kindness in business stories I’m sharing this month.

Being a fresh graduate, in a middle of a pandemic and in such unprecedented times, I thought I needed the luck to secure my first graduate job. Little did I know that all I needed was some guidance and a lot of kindness from the communications community.

After I submitted my final university assignment, the thoughts of job hunting and potential unemployment started to kick in. With the economy being turned upside down and jobs being reduced, I was nervous about my near future.

However, I decided to turn these nerves into motivation and did a lot of research into the world of communications, trying to find any resources or networking events that would help me get my foot out the door. That was when I found the Taylor Bennett Foundation (TBF), a non-profit organisation dedicated to encouraging individuals from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic background to pursue a career in communications.

Fantastic mentor

The fact that PR professionals volunteer their time at the TBF to help individuals like myself find a job and make a name for themselves is incredible to me. The TBF offers numerous programmes and I applied for both the Mentoring programme and the Summer Stars internship programme.

I was matched with a fantastic mentor, Shalini Gupta and from our first meeting, Shalini has been extremely supportive, encouraging me to apply for roles outside of my comfort zone. She introduced me to many people in her network, who offered their time to talk to me and give me industry advice.

Due to Shalini’s advice, I applied and secured an internship role via the Summer Stars programme. If it wasn’t for her kind words of encouragement, I would have never applied. The TBF also supported me during the interview process, giving me interview tips and preparing me with mock interviews.

Acts of kindness

Since meeting my mentor and joining the TBF, I have had some many opportunities:

  • I been contacted to be a guest blogger by multiple PR professionals,
  • I have had one to one meetings with Internal Comms professionals who took time out of their busy day to give me insider knowledge,
  • I have been invited to be on a panel with other young PR professionals to discuss diversity in PR, a topic very close to my heart.

Each of these opportunities has given me a chance to network, learn, and introduce myself into the world of PR and I have even been offered job roles due to these experiences.

One act of kindness I will always cherish is from my first day in the office at my internship. My team went out of their way to make me feel extremely welcome:

  • meeting me at the office entrance,
  • involving me in discussions (both work-related and personal),
  • asking my opinion on wider projects
  • and even taking me out for lunch.

Although the mentoring programme was a six-month programme, Shalini kindly offered to continue mentoring me, as she wants to continue helping me progress in my career.

My advice

Here is some advice I would offer to those who are new to the communications community:

  1. Be present on social media and especially LinkedIn. In a digital society, social media is everything and is a first impression of yourself for others. Keep it personal and updated so that people and recruiters can get a true sense of who you are and your accomplishments.
  2. Stay open-minded. Appy for job roles out of your comfort zone or you feel slightly underqualified. You could be the perfect candidate for them without even realising. When meeting new people, don’t underestimate how kind they can be.
  3. Network, network and network. Use your social media to introduce yourself to others and give people the opportunity to be kind. Interact with companies and people that interest and inspire you. Don’t be scared to approach people first.
  4. Take any opportunity that comes your way. It might sound cliched but you never know how many doors one opportunity can open for you.

Receiving all this kindness, at such an early stage in my career, has moulded me into an even more confident, open and positive minded PR professional. I want to thank every single person who made my experience so joyful. If you have to take one thing from this blog I hope it is to never underestimate how much your kindness impacts a person.

Ilyana Rajwani is a Corporate Affairs intern within the financial services sector. To find out more or to get in contact, please view her LinkedIn profile.

Useful link: Taylor Bennett Foundation

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