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The journey of a BPS mentee with Laura Browne

Laura shares how the BPS mentoring scheme helped her to develop skills, grow in confidence and get advice career advice.

20 December 2022

Learning from the experiences of others is a great way for people to develop skills, grow their confidence and gather valuable opinions about their own career and educational direction of choice.

The BPS South West Branch coaching and mentoring scheme is suitable for budding psychologists, early career, or established career members.

It provides people with a framework through which they can gain the confidence and knowledge they need to progress within their chosen area of specialisation, or wider psychology careers.

Find out about the mentoring scheme

Headshot of Laura Browne, a BPS mentee, smiling.

The journey of a BPS mentee

In this latest piece, we sit down with Laura Browne from a national homeless charity, as she discusses her personal experiences on the BPS South West’s mentoring and coaching programme and how it has helped her to navigate her career and build her confidence.

Please give us a brief introduction to yourself and your career

When I left school to go to university, I'd already decided that I wanted to study psychology. It was a subject that really fascinated me and I felt I'd have a lot to offer.

In the end I took a year out to work and earn money before eventually deferring my studies, but with every intention of going back to psychology again at some point. It was always my passion.

After working for a few years, I decided to go back into education to study at the Open University alongside my paid job.

Fast forward a few more years and the time was right for me to complete a masters in psychology. I'd been a member of the BPS since I was an undergraduate and as luck would have it, I received an email asking if I wanted to engage with the mentoring programme. I jumped at the opportunity and decided to go for it!

Can you tell us a bit about your experience with mentoring?

I was nervous at the outset but my mentor, Dawn, put me at ease very quickly.

I discovered that Dawn's path was similar to mine in a lot of ways, which helped us to build a rapport and reassure me that the path I was on, was a good one.

My first mentoring session was focused on thinking about what I wanted to do. I knew that I wanted to work with and support women - and Dawn was good at extracting that information from me.

Dawn was also quick to highlight my life experiences - the fact that I'd worked with people, that I have a family. These were all identified as important transferable skills and by identifying these, Dawn managed to build my confidence from the get-go.

By my second session, I'd found a volunteer role that I wanted to apply for which involved working with and supporting young girls.

While encouraging me to apply, Dawn was also realistic with me and asked how I'd cope if I didn't succeed with the application. She was quick to arm me with some really important coping tools.

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“It was a leap of faith going into the mentee programme, but one I don’t regret at all.”
Laura Browne - BPS Mentee

Luckily, I managed to secure the role for 12 weeks and since completing my time there, I've been asked to go back and give more of my time whenever I can - which was another significant boost to my confidence.

Following that position, I found a role within a university - which wasn't in line with my career ambitions and once again, Dawn was quick to challenge me and make me think. She highlighted that I was staying in my comfort zone rather than pushing myself towards the career I really wanted.

Thanks to Dawn's guidance, I didn't go through the interview process and a short while later, another role came up at a national homeless charity - and the rest is history, so to speak.

I'm not working in a strictly psychological role, but I'm working with people with complex needs and putting into practice a lot of the skills a psychologist would rely upon.

It's outside of my comfort zone, but Dawn was good at encouraging me to go outside of what I already knew and offered me continual encouragement. I'm now attending meetings with people who are very high up and working on a range of exciting projects.

I sometimes think I have imposter syndrome, but as Dawn said to me, all I can do is go, listen to others and continue to build my skills further.

You have to start somewhere and as she is quick to point out, I already have a lot of the skills I need - I just don't always realise it.

What do you enjoy most about being mentored?

I enjoyed the homework side of it. It encouraged me to go away and reflect on my sessions with Dawn which in my case, meant looking into and researching work experience options. This was a really proactive step for me which ultimately led me to where I am now.

When I started the programme, I naively thought that Dawn would have all of the answers, but Dawn put the focus back on me to go away and complete tasks to really embed what we had discussed.

As with most learning and personal development, you get out what you put in, and with Dawn's guidance, I put a lot in to ensure that I received real value from the mentoring programme.

How has being mentored helped your career?

I'm doing really well in my current role and the organisation has recently taken on two new starters and in a strange twist of fate, I've been asked to mentor one of them.

My boss recognised that I had the qualities and characteristics needed to support this person and develop their skills and confidence.

It's lovely for me that my boss has seen that in me and I can now give back in the same way that Dawn gave so much to me. I can certainly draw on a lot of Dawn's coaching methods and techniques when I become a mentor.

How has being mentored helped to shape you as an individual?

I'm a lot happier as a result. I feel like a lot of pressure has been lifted off my shoulders.

I felt embarrassed before I joined the programme and I put a lot of pressure on myself because of my degree and my masters. I just wanted to prove why I was doing them and show people that I wasn't going to let them go to waste.

It's a genuine relief that I have secured a job and career path that I set out to. 

As a result of the journey I've been on, I've seen positive impacts on my wellbeing and my home life - I'm just happier at home and in general day-to-day life - which in turn only benefits my family.

What do you wish you'd known before you enrolled on the mentoring programme?

I really wish I'd kept a reflective diary. I wrote one for my studies but it would have taken too much time to do another one for my mentoring sessions.

I think it would be good to have the opportunity to read back over how I was feeling and the emotions I went through during the process to really appreciate the growth and confidence boost I've enjoyed along the way. The notes I took at the beginning versus those at the end, would be very different.

What would you say to other BPS members who are thinking about looking for a mentor?

All I would say is go for it. There's nothing to lose but so much to gain.

Listening to other people's experiences can give you that magic lightbulb moment, whilst arming you with the confidence you need to boost your skills and help you recognise where your strengths lie. It's a great opportunity.

It's easy to become set on a particular path, but having someone else there to listen and coach you can really make you think about things you never realised before and steer you towards the real goal that's in your head and your heart.

Dawn has changed my mindset and given me the drive to seek new opportunities and push myself. It's changed my life, put me on my perfect path and I wouldn't be where I am now without the mentoring sessions.

Dawn managed to positively challenge my preconceptions - which really helped me to develop. It was a leap of faith going into the mentoring programme, but one I don't regret at all.

Join the mentoring scheme

If you're looking for support or want to support others as a mentor, register your interest in the BPS South West Branch mentoring and coaching scheme today.

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