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Wavemaker x We Speak celebrate youth mentorship programme


Wavemaker has partnered with social enterprise We Speak to mentor young people from under-represented backgrounds to boost their confidence and communication skills. As another cohort graduates, we reflect on the success of the programme and the changes we want to see in the media industry to make it a more inclusive sector.

The insight

In the UK over 50% of students don’t feel confident sharing ideas in class. To make things worse, young people from lower income backgrounds are twice as likely to have communication difficulties, which is a barrier to their employment opportunities. Due to the pandemic, disadvantaged pupils in the UK are now as much as seven months behind their more privileged peers at school.

Making a change

We Speak is a social enterprise that supports young people from underrepresented backgrounds who are lacking in confidence. Wavemaker has partnered with them over the last two years to run programmes twice a year for twelve students mentored by eight volunteers from our business. The mentors transform the speaking confidence of the young people, with an average increase in confidence of 43%.

The We Speak trainers first work with our volunteers from the media agency to develop their mentoring skills.  They are then matched with school pupils of A-level age (or sometimes undergraduates). They embark on a 4-week online programme with weekly interactive sessions where mentors support the students to build confidence in presenting and also help them learn about the media world.   

The programmes have been such a great success, with some amazing feedback from the students and mentors alike.  

students and mentors on a video call looking happy

It’s honestly made me feel so much more confident and more able to do opportunities like this in the future.”

aaliyah, student on the we speak programme

Online Graduation Ceremony

This July we ran a graduation ceremony for the last three cohorts of students to celebrate their completion of the course and also an opportunity for them to showcase their new-found skills and confidence. The event was well attended with our Global CEO Toby Jenner giving a heartfelt speech at the beginning congratulating the students but also giving sound advice for when they start to navigate the working world and interviewing processes.

We heard from three students who gave a small presentation each and then two of the mentors, Damian Thompson and Paloma Jaen Garcia, each gave a talk on what it meant for them to be part of the programme. Kemi Oduniyi talked about the apprenticeship scheme and how to apply if the students would like to join that programme as a follow on after school. 

Programmes like We Speak give these talented young people a huge boost in confidence, and opens up the media industry to a cohort who often have little awareness of the career opportunities at an agency like Wavemaker. One of the 2020 graduates talked about the impact the programme had made on her, influencing her choice of apprenticeship and her ambition to join the industry.

Feedback from the Wavemaker mentors:

  • It was a great experience. I enjoyed watching my student opening up and smiling.
  • The mentorship experience was really well done and structured, very clear and easy to follow. Hearing a mentee repeat something I said as one of their ‘main learnings’ from the session, felt really good, to know that I have made a positive impact! 
  • I’ve been a mentor three times and it always inspires me to meet these young people and see how genuinely impressive they are. 

What’s next?

If you work at Wavemaker and you’re interested in becoming a mentor, contact me on [email protected].

If you’re interested in a career at Wavemaker, visit our People page.

Rita Harnett
Ecommerce Partner at Wavemaker Global

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