First Year Connections: How being a mentor for first-year students can help you and them!

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Learning Logger Jenny
Student Experience Office

Jenny

The transition to university can be a stressful time for any student. Whether you are coming to university straight out of high school, transferring from another university, or have decided to go back to school after a few years off, the anticipation of starting anew can be exciting and nerve-wracking.

During my time as a First Year Connections mentor, I have seen how beneficial it can be to have someone who is by your side during those first few weeks of university. I remember how nervous I was about starting my university career, and I would have loved to have a mentor to show me the ropes.

Being a FYC mentor is a really rewarding role. I originally wanted to become a mentor because I wanted to help welcome students to Carleton, but my experience has been so much more than that. I didn’t expect the lasting connections I would make with some of my mentees. I still have a monthly coffee date with one of my mentees that I met through the program two years ago. We developed a great relationship over the six weeks of the program, and I was so happy when she wanted to continue meeting after the program was over.

Another great thing about being a mentor is that you get to meet a lot of like-minded people. Mentoring attracts people who are passionate about helping people and making a difference, so it is easy to make connections with the other mentors. I actually met one of my closest friends through First Year Connections. We were both first-time mentors and we were placed in the same group during training. We bonded over our excitement to start the program, and we kept in touch throughout the program and the year.

The First Year Connections program has also helped me improve my skills in and outside the classroom. The program has helped me grow and improve my skills by learning from the experiences of others. Being a mentor has helped me enhance my ability to empathize, by forcing me to place myself in someone else’s shoes. Being a mentor has also helped me to become a better student. Talking with my mentees about study skills and class tips forced me to reflect on what I do as a student and what works best for me.

But probably the biggest benefit of being a First Year Connections mentor, is getting to meet a variety of Carleton students! This year I got to meet an international student from Spain. It was a lot of fun showing her around Carleton and the city. For one of our meetings, we went downtown and saw the parliament buildings and got beavertails! I also got to learn a lot about the culture in Spain and what university is like there. These are experiences I would not have had without becoming a First Year Connections mentor.

All in all, if anyone is thinking about becoming a mentor I would tell them to go for it! You can gain a lot of valuable skills and connections through the program and it is a very rewarding experience!

Make a difference, be a mentor. Apply today!

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