Mariam Al-Kayssi is 16 and has been working with Mosaic for almost three years. When she first started the Secondary School Mentoring Programme, Mariam was nearly 13 years old and one of her mentors was Maz Majid, who is Head of GM Merchandising Operations and Programmes at Marks & Spencer. Mariam said: “At first I thought that he (Maz) wasn’t going to help me much and that Mosaic wouldn’t help me either, but then once I started attending the sessions, I wanted more. The best thing about Mosaic is that it does really affect you in a positive way, it also opens up lots of opportunities and vital contacts for the future, and the educational visits are just out of this world.
I enjoyed the whole journey, from getting to know my mentor to meeting people, visiting places and networking.”
Before she took part in Mosaic’s mentoring programme, by her own admission, Mariam was incredibly shy. Taking part in the Mosaic programme has helped build her self-confidence, develop her imaginative and creative skills and also taught her many new skills. She also learnt a lot personally from her mentor and the educational World of Work visits.
Speaking of the World of Work visits that Mosaic organises for young people, Mariam commented: “The best educational visit that I went to was the one day work experience at the Marks & Spencer offices. The first room I went in was the board room and I heard lots of discussions about the economy and the business itself, it was amazing. Then, I went into the designing room where there were so many materials and clothes and books full of designs and I remember the person that was in charge of the design department telling me that I was the only person that has asked so many questions in the session and I remember how I was really shy before I joined Mosaic and now I was asking many questions.”
Now, Mariam is really excited about her future and looking forward to the opportunities and experiences that she now knows will come. Speaking about the value of mentoring, Mariam added: “I think that it is vital to have a mentor because it will help develop me further, my personality and my skills, and I know I’ll learn new skills from Maz. Maz has really helped me develop my self-confidence and my talking and creative skills. I’ve always wanted to have a career in business management and hopefully run my own business some day and Maz has really helped me get closer to that goal, as he is in one of the leading businesses, and he is always encouraging me that I can make it and I can even have my own business one day and that encouragement has really helped.”
Mariam will now be undertaking work experience at M&S and excited Mariam added: “this will be my first time to experience what it’s like to be working in a business and encourage me even more to achieve my goal, I’m really looking forward to it!”
Talking about the difference being mentored has made to her life, Mariam said: “I think having a mentor is a privilege as I know it’s not something every student is lucky to have, but I am and it has made a real difference to me life and me career aspirations. I think mentoring is such a special thing to be able to do because mentors can help change someone’s life and give them opportunities they never thought they would get. I remember thinking to myself that I will never get to experience what it’s like having someone who is in business listen to my career plans and I’d really not know what it’s like to work in a business and now I’m going to do my work experience in one of the leading businesses.”
Encouraging others to become mentors, Mariam said: “If you become a mentor, you will help other students by developing their skills, helping them achieve their goals, supporting and encouraging them so they feel like they can do anything they set their mind and heart on. You will be mentoring children, children who study at one of the most challenging schools in the country, but a school that is really successful, with your support through mentoring we can become even more successful. Mentoring opens doors for students, some of these students come from a difficult or poor background and Mosaic can give them the support and opportunities they need to develop their self-confidence, skills and networks.”