Coaching and mentoring

How some extra support can help you as you're building your career.

My World of Work is designed to help you make decisions about your career, and develop the skills you need to get a job. Sometimes, people also benefit from one-to-one support – which is where coaching and mentoring comes in.

Coaching

Coaching is about helping you find ways to develop and achieve your potential.

Think about it like a sports coach. They identify the skills each player has, and how they can be used to help the team. They work with players to help them improve and become more confident. As each player gets better, the team is more likely to win.

A careers coach will work with you to develop your career management skills. They’ll help you think about who you are, what you’re good at and what you want to achieve. Then, you’ll decide how you’re going to do it and make a plan to keep you on track.

You can get support at different times throughout your career. You might be unsure of where to look for your first job out of school – or even know what you want to do when you leave. Or you might have been in the workplace for many years, but need a little help to make a career change. No matter what your circumstance, coaching can help you build the confidence you need to get the career you want.

SDS centres

You can use our centre search to find your nearest SDS centre. Drop in for careers advice and support.

Mentoring

A mentor isn’t someone who’ll tell you what to do. They’re someone who’ll help you find out where you really want to be – and explore different ways to get there. A good mentor will make sure you have the support you need to do things yourself, rather than trying to do things for you.

That might be about making sure you feel confident and comfortable in a new situation. Or, it could mean helping you to set yourself tasks or making contacts within their industry. What they do will depend on you, your relationship, and what you want to achieve. 

Five ways a mentor could help you

‘Mentoring can hugely increase a young person’s confidence, their self belief, aspirations and expectations of what they can achieve,’ says Donna Cunningham, who works for mentoring organisation MCR Pathways.

Here are five of the ways mentoring could make a difference to you.

A trusted ear

A mentor is someone you build trust with, so that you feel comfortable talking about your ambitions. Those things can be difficult to discuss with your friends and family. A mentor is a fresh pair of ears who can help you think more clearly about things. 

Learn about yourself

Mentoring is all about you. A mentor will help you recognise your strengths and skills. That means you can start to understand where you fit in best, and what you can do. 

Quality time

There’s a big difference in talking to someone one-on-one about what you want to achieve, and taking part in a class discussion. A mentor can give you the quality time and space you need. 

Confidence

A mentor will support you to learn about yourself, learn new skills, and try new things. The more skills and knowledge you build up, the more confident you feel. 

Build resilience

It doesn’t matter if you get knocked down – as long as you know how to get up again. Having someone to support you, talk to about what you can do next, or to offer helpful advice, makes all the difference.

Finding a mentor

Many schools, colleges and universities run mentoring or buddy programmes, so it’s worth asking if it’s available at yours. 

There are lots of mentoring projects which run across Scotland. Many give support to people who are looking for work or need help in education. Try the mentoring map on the Scottish Mentoring Network website to find one near you.

If you’re looking for a professional mentor, try to find someone who is in the kind of job you’d love to do. You could seek them out at:

  • Professional mentoring organisations – see the useful links below
  • Networking events for your industry
  • Careers fairs
  • Through the people you know personally
  • Through a professional body linked to the job you’re in or interested in (you can find those details on our job profiles)

When you’re getting in touch, be clear about what help you are looking for – and point out why you’re a useful contact to them, too. You can use our networking tips for advice on getting in touch or handling networking events.