Business mentors help students tackle real-life problems

On Monday 13th November a group of 12 Year 12 students from The Petchey Academy took part in their first Business Mentoring session of Envision’s Community-Apprentice competition. During the session, mentors from the law firm McDermott Will & Emery (MWE) helped students from The Petchey Academy develop skills which are essential for running their social action projects and for future life.

The mentors have generously agreed to support the students at key points in the ten-month programme, which, like the TV series The Apprentice, requires students to demonstrate personal qualities whilst working in teams to manage their own projects.  However, this competition is not about who can make the most money, rather, who can make the biggest and most positive impact in their local community.

Tackling real-life problems

The programme, which has recently been recognised by the Department of Education as an effective model for employer engagement, inspires students to develop their employability skills while tackling real-life problems.

So far teams have chosen an issue that they feel passionately about. Team Hope for Hackney have decided to tackle loneliness amongst the elderly and want to bridge the generational gap between young people and their elders in Hackney. On the other hand, Team Croissant Hunger are tackling homelessness and aim to raise awareness of the issue whilst providing resources for local homeless shelters.

Will Allum, one of the mentors at MWE stated that he “enjoyed seeing the students’ enthusiasm about their project and found the experience fulfilling and eye-opening.”

Developing employability skills

The competition requires students to develop, and crucially evidence, 3 key skills; teamwork, communication and creativity. In the first mentoring session, students and mentors discussed the importance of creativity and teamwork and the mentors gave advice on how to apply these skills to their projects.

Throughout the Community-Apprentice competition, teams take part in inter-school challenges. The first of these, the Film Challenge, develops team-working and communication skills by challenging teams to produce a film of no more than two minutes explaining why their issue matters in a single take! Both teams rose to the challenge and have created fantastic films, which you can watch here: 

Team Croissant Hunger

Team Hope for Hackney


Both the students and mentors are looking forward to the next Business Mentoring session at MWE on Wednesday 29th November, where the two teams will be getting tips to help their communication skills. This is so they are ready for the second part of the competition, the Pitching Challenge, where they will have to pitch their idea of how they aim to make a positive impact in their community in the hope of receiving up to £100 of seed funding for their social action projects.

- Naomi, Envision Coach