When London went into lockdown, ORT UK was forced to postpone all its planned projects and events.
Its successful school mentoring program, ORT JUMP, for children in Year 12 (age 16-17), was at the midway point of this year’s initiative, with more than 200 teenagers awaiting further careers guidance. Students were benefiting from meeting their assigned professionals across a wide range of industries, so the decision was made to continue the scheme remotely.
Mentors and mentees have been encouraged to explore further education and career options together online instead of at their place of work as originally planned. The feedback from this has been extremely positive, with one mentor telling ORT UK: “The Covid-19 crisis has changed the way in which I can provide mentoring support, yet we are still able to have a productive conversation and plan for my mentee’s future.
“In particular we are considering how she can use this enforced time at home to learn a new skill to enhance her CV and enable future employers to recognise her resourcefulness. I have more time to support her, listen to her concerns and answer her questions and mentoring gives me a positive focus outside work.”
In addition to these meetings, ORT JUMP has arranged a series of Zoom masterclasses offering students advice related to the university admission process, apprenticeships and employability skills.
The first event was trialled a fortnight ago, with more than 100 teenagers tuning in to hear Cambridge University student Lucy Summerfield offering her top tips on writing a personal statement – the 47-line ‘about me’ essay, which UK students submit with their university application form. The webinar was incredibly informative and ORT JUMP is now in talks with a number of secondary schools to repeat the session for their students.
“I thoroughly enjoyed attending,” said student Raphael. “The talk was engaging, interesting and very useful and will definitely help me when I come to write my own personal statement. I also thought the format worked perfectly.”
ORT JUMP mentees are also usually invited to career evenings to hear from experts from popular professions. These have been rearranged online over the coming weeks, with professionals from psychology, law and finance taking questions on screen.
Finally, the students, their teachers and their mentors were due to attend the ORT JUMP graduation ceremony in July, to celebrate the mentees’ achievements and receive prizes for the assignments participants are required to write during the process. This too will occur as a webinar, including a live interview with guests Ben and Gabe Turner from TV, film and music production company, Fulwell 73. The brothers will discuss their career paths and the importance of mentoring.
Dan Rickman, ORT UK CEO, said he was delighted with the response to ORT JUMP’s digital change-over.
“ORT has always been a leader in education and utilising technology is core to what makes us such a special organization. With schools closed and students isolated in their homes, ORT JUMP is thrilled to be able to continue offering online support and advice to its students, assuring they feel positive about the future during this time of uncertainty.”