Thursday, 10 October 2013

Mentoring at Bucks - what is it and who needs it?

Mentor's old pal Odysseus
What is mentoring? and what is a mentor? According to Wikipedia: the original Mentor was a friend of Odysseus. He looked after Odysseus's son Telemachus, acting as his guide and teacher, when Odysseus sailed off to fight in the Trojan Wars. Hence the term mentoring.

At Bucks, mentoring is a way of offering students one-on-one support from (usually, but not necessarily, older) people who have been there, and done that. If you feel like you would like to find a mentor at the university, or have a bit of wisdom and experience you would like to pass on to others, then the man to talk to is Paul Wilcock, who is one of two dedicated staff at Bucks who look after the mentoring program. We asked Paul to tell us what, exactly, mentoring is, and why students might be interested in getting involved.

Bucks: What is Mentoring at Bucks and how does it work?

Paul: Bucks Mentoring provides an opportunity for individuals with experience relevant to students to share this, along with giving support and guidance as required.

Keeping it simple, the mentors are those providing this help, and the mentees are those students gaining from this encouragement and advice.

Our mentors come from varied backgrounds. They are often current students who have been identified as having the required skills, background and manner to provide such individual personal development. Experienced working professionals, including former students through our alumni community, also get involved as mentors.

The mentoring programmes run from approximately November to May. Mentors and mentees are introduced at the start and then link through a combination of face to face and online interactions, as suits both parties, for a total of approximately one hour a month over this period. Face to face meetings are held at a mutually agreed venue.

Bucks: How might mentoring be relevant to students studying Animation and Visual Effects?

Paul: Mentoring is of benefit to students whatever their subject discipline. Mentees gain practical advice, build confidence, develop skills and learn from the experiences of others, which all helps in providing career insight and direction. Mentors achieve a huge sense of fulfilment in passing on their skills and experience, and witnessing how this contributes to personal growth.

Getting involved also enhances the CV of both parties. With time so precious, Bucks Mentoring offers flexibility as it is delivered face to face or online, as agreed between participants.

Bucks: What is the best thing about mentoring and what is the biggest challenge?

Paul: The best aspect to mentoring is it helps both mentors and mentees in terms of personal growth and development and as such is very rewarding. This main challenge in a successful mentoring relationship is ensuring the student mentee puts in the time and effort to keep in touch with their mentor and respect the fact that they are benefiting from free support and advice and should behave accordingly in terms of respecting the time given up by their mentor.

Bucks: What should a student do if they would like a mentor?

Paul: They should complete an application form here: or email us at



  1. Wow , great blog and what a great school system providing real help to students who wish to improve their animation skills or learn it out right. The information is professional and complete. I'm an animation professional working for paramount animation studios as a Story Artist here in Burbank California, a world away but I would more then love to help students who need additional skills in creating and setting up shorts and storyboards. I also teach a story boarding course on line and if students would like a special low cost 80% 0ff access to my course to further their skills feel free to click the link provided and enjoy!

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