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The Meet your Mentor programme offers Dutch students with an ethnic minority background a mentor who guides students in the transition to the labour market. 3 participants share their experiences.

Through their contact with their mentor, students receive support with challenges and discover where their strength lies as a young professional.

The programme is facilitated by the Central Diversity Office of the UvA, and five of the UvA's faculties are already particpating in it. On 17 November, the second edition of the programme will kick off.

Yannick Zwiep

Yannick Zwiep, 25, Business Administration'

'I participated in Meet your Mentor because I felt not yet fully ready for a professional career. This was mostly due to my insecurities about my skills and what I could offer to a company. I was constantly doubting my own capacities. During the conversations I had with my mentor, I found out that I was downplaying my own skills. The programme helped me get to know myself better and to explore my qualities. This had allowed me to better position myself in the professional field.

Meet your Mentor helped me become the confident person I am today. Through Meet your Mentor I spent three months actively discovering and developing myself. It made me more aware of where my interests lie and how I want to develop them. For example, the insight that the program has given me, in combination with the support of my mentor, helped me start an application process with purpose and confidence, which led to a new job.'

Helin Dönmez

Helin Dönmez, 22, Law

'Before participating in Meet your Mentor, I had the feeling that I would not be able to make the transition from university to the labour market. I had no prior work experience at all and was afraid of employers' expectations. Meet your Mentor was an opportunity for me to change my narrative that I would not excel in my professional career. I had a clear goal in mind during the program: to find an internship at a law firm.

My mentor helped me to be more daring. 'The worst thing that can happen is to receive a rejection, but at least you’ve tried,' she said. This gave me the extra push I needed. As a result, I dared to approach several employers and eventually ended up at my current internship. Through Meet your Mentor I have achieved my goal and I have more confidence in  my professional career.'

Seniha Kazanci

Seniha Kazancı, 22, Psychology

'A year ago I was doubting my choice of study. I am the first in my family to study at university, so this doubt caused extra tension and stress. I was in great need of a mentor who could support me during this uncertain period. Through Meet your Mentor I got to know myself better and for the first time I dared to admit out loud that I didn't like the programma I was stydying. In addition, I learned more about my own qualities and what I value in life. I found out that Psychology is a better fit for me. My mentor encouraged me to volunteer at a mental health facility to gain practical experience. This experience ensured me that I wanted to study psychology.

Through the programme I have learned to make better choices. I also have a more clear vision of my future. It made me realise that it doens't matter if I  take a longer path towards my end goal. Each path will yield new valuable knowledge about myself and life. If I hadn't felt so much frustration, sadness and anger, there would have been a trigger to give my life a new direction. Meet your Mentor has given me more confidence in overcoming obstacles.'