Wellbeing & Support

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Wellbeing & Support

Dimitra – My Journey as a Peer Mentor

In September 2020, I started my journey as a Peer Mentor for the BSc Marketing and Management undergraduate programme; an unforgettable experience that helped me develop my soft skills while helping other students at the beginning of their university life. Therefore, I would like to share my thoughts on the Peer Mentor position, explain what a Peer Mentor does, and why I think that students should grab the opportunity to participate in the Peer Mentor scheme.

The role

The role includes supervising and supporting new students that are assigned to you who share the same course or similar modules. The Peer Mentor provides advice regarding all aspects of the students’ experience, from housing to academic matters.

One of the first parts of the Peer Mentor experience is to construct a Welcome Letter, addressing the prospective students right before they start their academic semester. During this process, academic staff are available, and you can always get support on how to greet the new students, what to include in the letter and general guidelines for your presentation. Then, you can create a Team on Microsoft Teams for your Peer Mentoring group, in order to make communication more direct and easier for students who can be flooded with e-mails in their first few weeks at university.

Next, it is advisable to have your first meeting with the students during induction week, to get to know them and break the ice. Your responsibility is to guide them and share your own experience, as well as signpost them to the right resources and people. Guiding the students and signposting is quite easy as there is adequate training for the position beforehand, through online seminars and small tests. As students are progressing in their first semester, they may contact you throughout that time. However, you need to hold 3 more meetings spread across that time, to ensure that they are adjusting well to university life.

How can you benefit from being a Peer Mentor?

Nevertheless, helping your fellow students does not just benefit them. Being a Peer Mentor is an extremely rewarding experience in itself, because of the direct contact you can have with the students. Firstly, you can develop leadership skills, as it is your responsibility to organise the meetings, lead the presentations, and guide the conversation. Since students might be quite introverted at the beginning, you will need to be prepared to ask the questions, introduce the topics that might interest them, and share your own experience.

Also, what I found very insightful was that I needed to employ and expand my communication skills in order to develop trust with the students. To improve my interpersonal communication skills, I found that it was key to engage students and help them feel comfortable to share their queries. Thus, these soft skills could definitely enhance my CV and increase my employability, since now I have various examples of leadership and communication to talk about.

Acquiring skills

Moreover, time management and planning are two skills that can definitely be acquired through the Peer Mentor experience. The freedom to organise and plan your meetings can also be a great challenge to develop these necessary skills. In order to cover every topic that might be of interest to the students and answer all their questions, the Peer Mentors need to section the meetings carefully and allow enough time between each topic. From my perspective, at the end of the Peer Mentor experience, I can now confidently plan the time of a meeting, and I have also developed my presentation skills.

Lastly, aside from the responsibilities, joining the Peer Mentor scheme will also give you a chance to socialise with other students, and meet other cultures since our university embraces diversity. You will have the chance to meet people from all over the world and even create new friendships with people who share the same course and contribute to your networking.

Overall, being a Peer Mentor can help you enhance your employability skills and is a rewarding and fun experience. Therefore, I strongly encourage everyone to participate!

 

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