The Academic Skills and Mentoring Team explain how the Student Mentor Scheme gives undergraduates employability skills whilst helping first years
settle into university …
Being a Student may mean making some great new friends, having an awesome social and sporting life, having some unique experiences and of course getting a degree! However, not all students find it easy settling in straight away. Everything is new, many students are living independently for the first time, lectures and new ways of learning can be daunting and orientation around the campus and city has its challenges. But here at Cardiff University many of our first years get to fast track this ordeal with the help and insider knowledge from Student Mentors!
So how does the Student Mentor Scheme work?
The scheme matches continuing undergraduate students with first years from within their own school and where possible from their own degree discipline. Training and support is provided so that the mentors feel confident in their role and first years are given a friendly face to seek advice and guidance from. Each Mentor is assigned a small group of mentees and they meet as a group on a weekly or fortnightly basis, in an informal friendly environment.
So what types of topics do the Mentor Meetings cover?
When we start university we often have lots of questions and sometimes we don’t know who to turn to for advice or support. Often, the best person is another student. When you ask a second or third year student for advice you are getting advice which is recent and relevant. The first years are encouraged to discuss things they may be unsure of. This may range from how to use the library, living in halls, referencing, homesickness, making friends or housing for next year. As the semester progresses first years tend to ask about different sorts of things.
Obviously the Mentors will not have all of the answers all of the time but part of the training means that they will know who to signpost students to so that they get the best advice possible or the mentors will check with us at the office if they are unsure of anything.
So how does this benefit the first year students?
The scheme helps students settle into Cardiff University and allows them to become familiar with their school, the uni, the union and the city. The Mentor Scheme provides the first year students with a friendly face, someone they can contact just to confirm things with, someone to ask questions from if they don’t want to ask a member of staff or they don’t know who to ask.
So why should I volunteer to be a Mentor?
Those who do volunteer recognise that they get to give something back to the uni but that they also gain fantastic employability skills including; leadership, time management, group management, communication and presentation skills. Mentors also however gain an increase in confidence and this feeds through at job interviews and applications. One Mentor stated;
“Being a Mentor really gave me an edge at interviews as I had something to talk about and had examples to demonstrate my skills.”
Previous mentors have gone on to secure jobs with JP Morgan, Lloyds, Teach First and the Met Office, to name just a few. Any Student Mentor who is also doing the Cardiff Award can count their mentoring hours towards the award.
What is involved in being a Mentor?
Student Mentors are recruited through the Academic Skills and Mentoring Team, this involves students completing an online form, attending a semi-formal interview and completing one full day and one half day of Student Mentor Training. Once in the role Mentors are expected to attend meetings to feedback how it is going as well as giving up around one hour a week to meet with their group of first years.
All of the student mentors volunteer their time but give much more than that. They are a team who are creative, dedicated and fun. So, do you have what it takes to be a mentor? Been there? Done that? Well, now get the t-shirt! Check out the URL below; complete the online form by 2nd March. What have you got to lose? Email your interest to firstname.lastname@example.org
Ann Mc Manus
The Academic Skills and Mentoring Team
Your Student Life, Supported