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From Intern to Mentor to Manager

From Intern to Mentor to Manager

As part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Jack Petchey Foundation, we’re highlighting exceptional stories of those from our programmes. This month, meet Jessica, an inspiring example of how to turn a JPF internship into a bright future!

Firstly, tell us about yourself – name, what you do, where you work

My name is Jessica Villiers and I am the Operations and Development Manager at Newham Music.

What was your first involvement with JPF? Why did you choose this particular internship?

After earning my Music Degree during the pandemic, I spent countless hours searching for jobs in the arts sector, which seemed an impossible task at the time. I then discovered a great role at Newham Music, which is an organisation that provides music education and opportunities to young people across the Newham borough. That spoke to my background, passion and values and it turned out it was supported by JPF’s internship programme. This role offered something that stood out from others: mentorship, dedicated training opportunities, and a personal development bursary fund. I found the level of support encouraging and thought it was ideal for my first professional experience.

How did the internship help you?

It was in several ways. Working in a professional environment allowed me to develop practical skills and gain hands-on experience. Starting as an intern also meant that I felt comfortable asking those ‘silly questions’ (that are never actually silly!) as I knew my colleagues were supportive of the personal growth and development journey I was on.

Being part of a cohort with other interns was also incredibly beneficial. Engaging with like-minded young professionals who were all embarking on the same journey provided the opportunity to bounce ideas and questions off one another. Likewise, having an external mentor to my organisation was invaluable. It provided me with additional guidance that helped me navigate the working world I wasn’t used to.

A group of 30 young people cheering together outside in a garden area at a training day during their internship.


How did you transition to working as a Grants Officer for JPF after your internship ended?

While working as an intern at Newham Music, while at our training days I became familiar with JPF’s missions and values, which strongly resonated with mine. When a Grants Officer position became available, I immediately applied. The versatility of my role at Newham Music, and the training I had received throughout the year, meant that I felt prepared to take on new challenges and not be afraid that I did not have all the required experience listed on the job application. Many of the skills I had gained were transferable and helped me immensely when I started the role.

You then became a mentor on the internship programme and a mentor on the Achiever Network – why was this and how did you find being on the other side of it?

This decision was driven by my desire to give back and support others as I had been supported. Having personally benefited from mentorship, I understood its impact and wanted to provide the same guidance and encouragement to new achievers.

Being on the other side of the mentorship experience is incredibly rewarding. I hope that I can share my knowledge and experiences to help others navigate their early career challenges. I find it fulfilling to watch my mentees grow, develop their skills, and gain confidence in their abilities in the same way I did. I’d recommend others who’ve been through the process to become mentors too.

You are now line-managing others in a new role. Did the mentoring journey help you prepare for that?

Significantly. Through my experiences as a mentor on the internship scheme and the Achiever Network, I feel that I have, and continue to, develop essential leadership and communication skills that are crucial for management. From both perspectives, the process has taught me the importance of active listening, empathy, and providing constructive feedback – skills that are directly transferable.

Mentoring has also given me a deeper understanding of the challenges and needs of those starting their careers, enabling me to better support and guide my team members. It also helped me build patience and adaptability, as I learned to tailor my approach to suit different individuals’ strengths and areas for development.

Do you have any tips for those who are interns, or mentees, on how to get the most out of their experience?

For Interns:

  1. Be Proactive: Take initiative and show enthusiasm. Don’t always wait for tasks to be assigned but instead look for ways to contribute and learn.
  2. Ask Questions: Do not be afraid to ask for clarification or more information. No question is ever silly!
  3. Reflect on Experiences: Take time to reflect on what you learn each day. Your internship will fly by and you may not be aware of just how much you have accomplished in that short space of time.

For Mentees:

  1. Be Open-Minded: Your mentor will have a wealth of knowledge that they can draw on to help you. Be receptive to advice and new ideas, and always ask for clarification if you are still unsure.
  2. Prepare for Meetings: I would recommend coming to mentoring sessions with specific questions or topics you want to discuss. This will really help you get the most out of each meeting.
  3. Reflect on meetings: Take the time to reflect on the feedback and advice you receive. I kept notes from my meetings and would always update my mentor on my progress in the following meeting.

My top tips for interns: 1. Be Proactive: Take initiative and show enthusiasm. Don't always wait for tasks to be assigned but instead look for ways to contribute and learn. 2. Ask Questions: Do not be afraid to ask for clarification or more information. No question is ever silly!

If you are interested in learning about our internship programme, sign up to our newsletter here to be amongst the first to know when it next opens for applications.

Want to know what a current intern is up to? Read Luana’s blog about her experience at London Bubble Theatre here

If you have a history with the Jack Petchey Foundation you would like to share with everyone, get in touch at

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