Benefits of Peer Mentoring for Undergraduate Students
Curious about how peer mentoring can benefit you at university?
You’ve come to the right place.
Peer mentoring has grown in popularity in recent years and is now an onboarding and retention tool used by many organizations. Academic institutions, like the Telfer School of Management, have introduced peer mentoring programs for new students.
Contrary to classic mentors, peer mentors are of similar age and/or experience levels as their mentees. There’s an exchange of knowledge, shared trust and support.
Here are five key benefits of having a peer mentor during the first year of your undergraduate journey as a Telfer student.
1. Navigating the transition period with ease
University and high school are completely different worlds. Your structured seven-hour days have now disappeared, and the professor isn’t reminding you of that large project due in a week. You check your schedule and see that you have a midterm on a Sunday, or you may be living on your own for the first time. All these changes can be a lot to handle. Don’t worry! Your peer mentor knows the feeling.
At the Telfer School of Management, the Peer Mentoring Program connects third and fourth-year students with incoming first-year students. They’ve experienced the challenges of starting university and are there to make sure your experience goes well.
One way Telfer mentors support you is by organizing study sessions and time management workshops to help you prepare for exams. There’s no need to “sacrifice” your first midterm exam to figure out how a professor designs their tests. Meet your mentor to find out their tips. Chances are that your mentor has taken that exact course and is familiar with each professor’s evaluation style.
Our Student Services team and peer mentors understand that you may have questions. From navigating the variety of services available, to wondering how to best organize your course sequence, to learning about extracurriculars to get involved in, peer mentors are there to support you and are responsible for knowing the “who’s” and the “where’s” to point you in the right direction.
“A notable moment I had with a mentee was back in September when I received an e-mail from an international student. She had just arrived in Canada and accidentally un-enrolled herself from her courses, except for one. This meant that she didn’t have the prerequisites for any of her Winter term courses. Another challenge arose from this. Due to her being a French international student, having only one course meant she was now part time, which increased her tuition fees significantly and invalidated her study permit. Not knowing where to start, I helped her schedule meetings with the Student Services team at Telfer and financial advisers at the University to discuss possible plans of action. We even met with academic advisers to see if there were courses available that she could take to stay on track in her studies. Eventually, we came to a solution that resolved her academic and financial problems.” — Armande Obrou, third-year accounting student and Telfer peer mentor.
This exchange of knowledge is a key benefit of having a close connection with an upper-year student. To find out when study sessions are happening, make sure to follow the Telfer mentors Instagram.
2. Growing your social circle
Your mentor is also a great tool to help you build your circle of friends. More and more companies are realizing that peer mentorship is a great way to integrate a new hire and have them grasp the company culture.
University is no different. It’s likely that many of your friends from high school have joined a different faculty, enrolled at another institution or moved out of town, and you’ll want to make new friends. That’s where your peer mentor comes in.
The small or non-existent age gap with your peer mentor allows you to connect directly with them. Peer mentors can serve as a bridge between you and other first-year students and introduce you to campus clubs or associations, where you can meet other students with similar interests.
“Telfer has so much to offer. When you don’t know, you’re missing out. All that can change when you speak to one key person who has the knowledge and the resources to make your next couple of years memorable.” — Armande Obrou, third year accounting student and Telfer peer mentor.
An important aspect of each peer mentor’s mandate is to organize networking events and activities for you to meet others in your program.
“All of the peer mentors get together and brainstorm ideas for networking events based on the needs expressed by our mentees. Recently, we organized an event for first-year international students to help them adapt to Canadian culture. There was food, music, and good conversations.” — Chris Elief Yao, fourth-year marketing student and Telfer peer mentor
There’s no lack of social activities offered during your university journey. These activities are some of the easiest ways to bond over common goals. Your mentor is aware of everything happening throughout the year to help you build your network.
3. Adapting to a new environment
One of the main differences between a mentor and a coach is the relationship you have. Your peer mentor isn’t just a tool to help you succeed academically. They’d also like to see you thrive in all aspects of your student life.
You may be living on your own for the first time or are new to the city.
“Need a restaurant recommendation in the area? Looking for a laundromat? Maybe you want advice on how to budget for life on your own. Your mentor is there for that,” says Isabelle Décarie, student experience manager and peer mentoring program supervisor.
Peer mentoring lets you build a relationship out of trust and similarities. You may feel more comfortable approaching someone of a similar age with your questions about student life, but also about your life outside of school. Less hurdles in your life outside of school means a clear mind ready to absorb knowledge.
4. Eliminating the fear of the unknown
When starting a new journey, you’re likely to be preoccupied with all the ways things could go wrong. Your peer mentor is an encyclopedia of solutions to your problems, who has had the same worries that you might be having. This helps you eliminate outside sources of stress and focus on your studies.
You can also connect with peer mentors from different faculties at the University of Ottawa through the Academic GPS. You can chat with a mentor seven days a week to ask questions and learn more about upcoming workshops, events, and study groups.
“I sometimes compare peer mentoring to a bunch of deer running through the snow. They step in the tracks left by the deer in front of them. Why would they put in more work and walk -through fresh snow by themselves when someone has already done it for them? Just like how we want our mentees to avoid the mistakes we made by learning from us.” — Chris Elief Yao, fourth year marketing student and Telfer peer mentor
5. Gaining opportunities for professional growth
Although the Peer Mentoring Program is exclusively for first-year students at Telfer, your journey doesn’t have to stop there. Telfer offers other mentorship opportunities, such as the Executive Mentorship Program. Third- or fourth-year students apply to be matched with an industry executive or entrepreneur. Executive mentors share their knowledge with you, answer your questions about your career path, and create networking opportunities for you.
Recently, Kim Angèle Vallières, a Telfer alumna and the vice president of the Complex Risks Solutions Group at NFP Canada, was awarded the Telfer Young Donor of the Year Award. Kim says that her desire to give back to the school came from getting involved during her studies, notably, in the Executive Mentorship Program, which had a huge impact on her career.
Mentorship opens doors, and in the world of business, the more doors open to you, the better.
Become a mentee
Overall, peer mentoring has countless benefits that will ensure you have the best first year possible. Entering university is no easy change, but we want to make sure it won’t be one you’ll fear. After accepting your offer, keep an eye on your inbox, as your assigned peer mentor will soon reach out. Don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind experience!
Become a peer mentor
Mentorship not only benefits the mentee — mentors also gain a lot.
Looking to widen your skill range? Mentoring might be that key experience missing from your resumé. An Indeed article on the eight sought-after skills employers look for mentions communication, team work, time management, problem solving, initiative and, most importantly, emotional intelligence. These are all skills that you can develop by becoming a peer mentor.
Offering guidance is no easy job. It requires strong communications skills and the emotional intelligence to mitigate the stress and fears of incoming students through compassion and empathy. Your problem-solving skills are tested with every new question or concern. Your time management and initiative are honed while balancing organizing events with your own studies.
“Think of all the knowledge you’ve gathered! Why wouldn’t you want it to be transferred to someone else. Plus, it’s a great way to grow your network. I now have 140 people who know my name.” — Chris Elief Yao, fourth year marketing student and Telfer peer mentor
Joining the Telfer Peer Mentoring Program will change others’ undergraduate student experience and help you develop skills that will make your next application shine. Bonus: it’s a paid position. Applications open in March on the Work-Study Navigator, on the University of Ottawa job board for students.
Learn more about Telfer mentorship programs or become a peer mentor yourself. You can also email the Undergraduate Office for more details.