Student experience: Being a mentee in the Law School’s Professional Mentoring Scheme

Jireh Akandwanaho reflects on the benefits of being part of the Scheme

Jireh is studying a Law with Language LLB degree at Kent and dreams of being an International Human Rights lawyer. To help make her dreams a reality, Jireh grabbed the opportunity to join Kent Law School’s Professional Mentoring scheme and has spent the second year of her degree working with a Human Rights specialist. Thanks to the support she received from her mentor, Jireh was able to secure a four-week placement with the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law. Jireh shares her experience of being a mentee below…

‘I joined the KLS Professional Mentoring Scheme because I had just joined university doing my dream course so that I could be on my way to my dream career as an International Human Rights Lawyer. However, after my first year, I wasn’t certain about what direction to take to get on the right path. Most of the opportunities – and much of the information available – was for corporate law.

My mentor, who works in Human Rights, helped me with first-hand advice and guidance on how the industry works. She helped me realise the best steps I could take to get there. Although we were both busy most times, we managed to speak every two weeks via a video call. This helped me remain accountable and enabled our relationship to thrive for the whole year. On top of being able to realise my particular area of interest in law, my mentor encouraged me to be proactive in applying for diverse opportunities to try. She said this would help me get to know my strengths and weaknesses and to understand what they could mean to my education and future career.

‘With her guidance, I worked on my CV, wrote a cover letter and had professional mock interviews. This enabled me to acquire my first work experience in an international NGO called the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law, earlier this year. Not only was I able to network with more people in the industry, I also acquired much more knowledge and increased my skill set. This has made me more willing to try other areas of law as well –  so I can make a well-informed career decision as I head into the final year of my undergraduate education.

‘I would highly encourage everyone to take a part in this Scheme. It enables you to network with people in your preferred area of interest and acquire wonderful connections in the field. Also, the mentors provide such beneficial insight and advice for your education and career journey. Some of them also provide opportunities and open doors that are helpful for finding employment in the future. I would also advise anyone go into this Scheme to have a proactive and open mind; the mentors will not force you to do anything but it will be beneficial for you to put their advice into practice in order to achieve practical results from the experience.’

Jireh Akandwanaho


About the Professional Mentoring Scheme…

Kent Law School’s Professional Mentoring Scheme matches students with a mentor in the legal profession. Mentors, many of whom are Kent Law School alumni, volunteer their time to help students develop their understanding of the legal world. They may be able to offer advice on: informal career planning; how to develop skills and qualities needed for a career in law; diversity schemes within the legal profession; preparing for interviews for vacation schemes, mini-pupillages etc; what to expect in daily working life as a legal professional; and how to enhance your CV and/or LinkedIn profile.

Mentors work with their mentees for between six and 12 months. Most often, guidance is offered via email but many mentors arrange to meet with their mentees and supportive relationships can endure beyond the end of the scheme.

Employability and Placements Manager Jayne Instone, who coordinates the scheme, said: ‘This is a great way to build a network in law, have your questions answered, get support with applications, understand the profession and achieve success.’

Previous participants in the Scheme have attested to the benefits of a mentoring partnership and/or the networking opportunities afforded by the Scheme, including:

  • Chantal Cohen who gained a mini pupillage, enhanced networking skills and a two-week work experience placement
  • Meghan Daniels who gained pupillage less than 18 months after graduating from Kent
  • Patrik Jacobsson who secured work as a trainee with a leading firm of international solicitors
  • Leigh Leach who secured a training contract with a leading law firm in Kent
  • Jessica Luu whose mentoring partnership evolved into full-time employment
  • James Mapley who found himself in the enviable position of being able to choose from one of three offers for a training contract

The scheme comprises more than 100 legal professionals working in the UK and in countries all over the world including: Canada; Nigeria; Trinidad and Tobago; Malaysia; and the United Arab Emirates.