In spring of 2021, Roberto joined our community of guardians in west London. He has since completed over 336 hours of volunteering. In the run up to Pride this year, Roberto started to mentor a young LGBTQ+ university student.
We caught up with him about his new volunteering role, and the impact it’s having on his mentee’s life and his own.
Just Like Us
Since becoming a Dot Dot Dot guardian, Roberto has tried out a variety of volunteering roles. He’s helped out at a food bank and cleaned community centres.
“In April, I joined the Just Like Us mentor programme,” Roberto tells us. “And I finally feel I am placing my volunteering efforts in the right place.”
Just Like Us is a charity which supports LGBTQ+ young people. They run school talks, student-led Pride events and ambassador programmes, with the aim of making it easier for young people to grow up LGBTQ+.
“Starting your career or joining a new workplace can be a daunting experience for LGBTQ+ people,” Roberto says. “It can feel like coming out again for the first time. The Just Like Us mentor programme pairs young people with LGBTQ+ professionals to offer career advice.”
The mentor and mentee
With a background in engineering and project management, Roberto has been assigned a gay, trans mentee who shares his interest in project management. They have since met for coffee and have been emailing back and forth.
“My mentee is currently studying at university. He’s interested in a few different career paths including project management,” Roberto explains. “I’ve been able to share my experience and explain how organisations work from the inside. I’ve also set him various homework tasks; one of which is to read various job descriptions to see what piques his interest.”
“He’s going to be starting an internship in November,“ Roberto goes on to say. “So we’ve been setting goals and thinking about preparation together. We’re currently focusing on building his confidence and drawing out what makes him special.”
Writing your own story
It may be early days, but Roberto is already building a trusting relationship with his mentee, helping him deal with the pressure of expectations.
“I can relate to many of my mentees’ experiences,” Roberto says. “He’s currently studying at university and he’s getting a lot of advice from different people about what he should do.”
“As a working professional, I can offer him advice from a different perspective. I want to help him build his own narrative, distill information and focus on what he really wants.”
The unexpected benefits of mentoring
“One of things I enjoy most as a mentor,” Roberto says, “is the direct impact you have. It’s very rewarding working one-on-one and getting to know someone.”
Roberto has also noticed the impact volunteering is having on his own life.
“I am learning a lot about myself. I’m learning about the challenges I haven’t had to face. I’m meeting people and creating new networks. I’ve had really fruitful conversations with other mentors who have been volunteering far longer than me. This whole experience is giving me ideas for my own professional development as well.”
Inspired to get involved? Roberto encourages you to check out the Just Like Us ambassador and mentor programmes.