The British Asian Trust and BT have an ambitious three-year CSR partnership that aims to empower 100,000 adolescent girls across India through innovative tech-based projects.
These projects are improving outcomes for girls during the critical stage of adolescence, across health and agency, education, and economic opportunities. In addition to working with the young girls directly, partners also work with critical stakeholders, and gatekeepers in the young girls' lives to drive change in behaviour and attitudes, to create an enabling and safer environment for adolescent girls.
Breaking the Ice
Nikita is a final year B.Tech student with placement opportunities coming up but no information on how to get ready for a job or about working in the software industry. She feared that being from a small town had limited her exposure and she wanted someone to guide her. The Mentor To Go mentorship programme seemed like a good avenue for her to get the information and support she needed.
The BT supported Mentor To Go programme is a technology enabled mentorship initiative that aims to help young girls from low-income families access career mentorship on the go, using just their mobile phones. Ravi - an Associate at BT - had previously volunteered with NGOs focused on children in lower income groups. With Mentor To Go he had the opportunity to fulfil his dream of helping a student from his area of expertise: software and IT.
Ravi and Nikita’s background in software helped break the ice, and for Nikita, this is what really cemented their bond.
Finding a Goal
Over the first few sessions, Ravi and Nikita spoke about various things, including how Nikita was handling her academic study during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their discussions were filled with Nikita’s aspirations for the future, and her broad goals in her personal and professional life. Together, they identified that Ravi could help Nikita with her goal of finding a work placement.
Ravi’s previous volunteering experience had given him practice in creating and delivering lessons. His aim was to prepare Nikita for the real world once her college course ended in a few months. With that in mind, Ravi and Nikita worked on revamping her resume and building Nikita’s knowledge of various software companies. Ravi motivated her to do well in her tests and prepare and go for interviews. He even helped her work smoothly with her college Hackathon team. An additional activity that Ravi undertook was to hold mock interviews with Nikita, and she learnt immensely from these and the subsequent discussions.
Ravi was able to relate to the problems that Nikita was facing, especially her lack of motivation and sense of direction – common experiences of college students! They both bonded over this commonality, and Ravi shared how he overcame the challenges of his college years, which alleviated some of Nikita’s anxiety.
An Opportunity to Make a Change
For Ravi, this opportunity was a walk down memory lane: ’It’s only been four years since my graduation but I was pleasantly surprised to see the changes in the curriculum. Students today are studying the latest technologies. Also, I feel I can relate to Nikita’s challenges because I had faced similar challenges in my college life.’
Ravi encourages others to consider mentoring as a special opportunity to help students. He also believes it to be a serious undertaking: ’Along with this being an opportunity, it’s also a responsibility. You just can’t see it as doing sessions with the students. You have to help them to achieve a good future. You have to motivate the student to do well. You just need to give two to three hours a week for this programme.’
For Nikita who was looking for someone to help her, this match was perfect:
‘I wanted somebody who would support me and guide me and my mentor, Ravi, does just that.’