The Cadence Scholarship Program is the flagship CSR program of Cadence India, introduced five years ago. Many meritorious students from under-served sections of society drop out of the education system after school because of the lack of finances. The project addresses this issue by retaining such students in the academic cycle through funding and support. Cadence employees come forward to serve as mentors for these students to guide them in their studies and career aspirations. They meet their mentees regularly for them to understand their issues and help solve their problems, which help students complete their course with good marks, improve their communication skills, overcome their fears, and emerge with a great personality and positive outlook towards life.
Meet Prashant Vardhan Agarwal, Software Architect, one of the senior mentors for the Program in Noida, and hear about his experiences and association with the Scholarship Program.
Asim: How did you hear about the scholarship and mentorship program?
Prashant: I have been associated with the Scholarship Program for a few years now. I remember responding to a call for mentor email. Initially, I was unsure about how much time will I need to commit and the frequency of meetings, interactions etc., but now I am happy I became part of it.
Asim: What prompted you to get involved?
Prashant: It started with the curiosity of, “What’s this Program about?", and the more I got involved, the more enlightening the experience became. It touched some interesting aspects of life; that there is another lifestyle beyond our air conditioned office and homes, and that the doubts and questions that we have overcome through years, are still the same in the minds of the mentees. Where to seek the information, what options do we have in our career, how to handle difficult situations, how to manage time, lack of confidence, fear of public speaking, are just some examples.
Asim: How has mentorship helped you in your initial years of job which help you guide the children associated with the Program?
Prashant: Among the mentors, it was very interesting to know that there are so many of us willing to help and be associated with the Program. Now, I know a lot more people beyond my project and group, across the organization. It really helps and feels nice to have a lot more people say “Hello” to. Also, the experiences shared among the mentors are a good learning. It also brought out a new thought: the doubts and questions that the Scholarship Program students have must be common to the interns and freshers who join Cadence. And that made me more empathetic towards the new hires.
Asim: What keeps you involved with this program year after year?
Prashant: The learning has been a constant factor in the Program, which makes me want to remain associated. Every time we have a new group of students, it's fun to interact with them, and guide them through their challenges, and learn along the way.
Asim: What are the strategies used and challenges faced while mentoring?
Prashant: The main strategy I use is to be a good listener. I listen to the challenges of the mentees, and help them reach to the answers by guided questions. For example, I ask them if they ever faced similar situation in the past, and how they managed it then. Making them realize that the current situations are not new, and they have already handled similar things successfully earlier, gives them confidence that, “Yes, they can solve it!” For fear of public speaking, I try to take them to the podium in the break/interaction sessions, so they get more used to facing the audience. This has also been a transitional experience, where I see them moving from initially nervous and uncomfortable to confident and comfortable. Overall, it has been a great experience so far.