When I was asked to be a mentor for the LSE’s inaugural Community Engagement Programme in 2021, I jumped at the chance because it allowed me the opportunity to reflect on how far I’ve come since graduating from the LSE (MSc in Comparative Politics, 2012) and to give back to the university. I returned for a second year in 2022, and was really excited to continue to support students in their community engagement projects, which struck at the core of my personal and professional motivations. However, initially, I was a bit unsure of whether I would be a good mentor to the students.
During the two years that I was a mentor to groups of students working on projects with charities based in and around London, my role was really to act as a sounding board and offer guidance to them as they navigated the complexities of project management (in particular during the pandemic), client relationships and working in teams. I was really struck by the energy of the students and their commitment to produce quality work for their charity – all while dealing with their normal LSE workload. I really appreciated their eagerness to dive into the problem at hand to develop creative solutions. In turn, I was able to use my own past and current experiences working in the area of public policy development in my country, and in the UN system, to advise my team on how to improve their project implementation. In addition, I found that they also really appreciated my insights on post-LSE life and navigating career choices after graduation.
The 3-month Community Engagement Programme offered me a chance to give back to the LSE and connect with the new generation of LSE graduates. It also allowed me the chance to connect with other mentors in the programme, who were located around the globe, and discuss our own experiences in the programme, as well as about our time at the LSE and afterwards. The programme offers students a chance to gain real skills needed in the world of work and fosters a sense of community development, which is essential to the LSE’s mandate. I wish that this programme existed when I was a student there, and I think others would agree. Many students, like myself, studied at the LSE because they wanted to make a difference and change the world. In my perspective, this programme offered them a chance to do just that, and it was rewarding to watch it unfold.