A dozen undergraduates at the University of York have participated in a very successful women’s mentoring scheme, teaming up with secondary school students and Hiscox and Aviva to encourage girls to broaden their career outlooks.
The Girl’s Enrichment Mentoring Scheme (GEMS) ran weekly meetings between the undergraduates and Year 10 pupils, culminating in two ‘Women in Business’ days of workshops and professional talks at Hiscox and Aviva.
The response to the project has been overwhelmingly positive. Molly McGrellis, a third year Maths undergraduate and volunteer for GEMS, said: “I clearly remember being 15 and not sure of myself and my abilities. I would have loved a scheme like GEMS at school to help demonstrate that the world of work isn’t that scary!
“The day at Hiscox was a great success. One of the pupils couldn’t believe how much she enjoyed the day and she is now considering insurance as a career – she’s even got some work experience lined up for Easter, and I might even apply for the graduate scheme myself!”
David Duncan, University Registrar, also had high praise for the project. He told Nouse: “The GEMS mentoring programme – aimed at girls of secondary school age – has proved very popular with pupils and teachers.
“Run by our business volunteering charity York Cares […], it provides opportunities for students to give practical help to young people who might not otherwise aspire to higher education.
“We are really grateful to Aviva and Hiscox for supporting the GEMS programme by hosting ‘Women in Business’ days at their York offices. The feedback from the Millthorpe and York High School pupils involved could not have been more positive.
“The GEMS programme is an excellent example of how York Cares brings together businesses and students in projects that make a practical difference in our local community. These initiatives also provide a great opportunity for students to develop the employability skills that will mark them out in the jobs market after graduation.”
He added: “It has been such a success that there are now plans to extend it to boys and to involve a wider number of student volunteers.”