First-Year Engineering Program
WHAT'S A PEER MENTOR?
Glad you asked!
The First-Year Engineering Program sees our Peer Mentors as the lifeblood of our program. Peer Mentors serve as a resource for our incoming first-year students by providing guidance and sharing their experiences. As a Peer Mentor, you will conduct a weekly meeting with each of your mentees that will cover a broad spectrum of topics intended to help with their transition to the University of Arkansas.
Peer Mentors are paired with roughly 8-10 mentees prior to the start of the semester. These pairings are based on a personality assessment, the starting math class and the discipline of Engineering the mentee is considering. While these pairings are not an exact science, we try to connect mentees and mentors together that will have several layers of a shared connection. Being able to relate not only helps your mentees with this transition but helps you feel more confident and comfortable with the knowledge you are sharing.
Aside from meetings with mentees, a Peer Mentor will meet routinely (whether in a weekly, biweekly or mixed format) with the Student Services Specialist, attend training dates during the Summer/Fall and Spring semesters, assist in the recruitment process of new mentees and will have various other opportunities to work alongside the First-Year Engineering Program.
So what does a Peer Mentor do?
WEEKLY MEETINGS AND "COACHING"
Building a Relationship
Peer Mentors will meet with each of their mentees weekly in scheduled 30 minute meetings. These meetings may have specific topics or talking points but will be driven by questions you ask and answers mentees give along with anything that may be weighing on their mind that specific week.
In an effort to continue benefiting our first-year students, we are transitioning our mentee meeting philosophy to be that of "Peer Coaching". This means that we are wanting our Peer Mentors to be motivating, engaging and interactive in their meetings with mentees. No longer merely reading from a script, you will be challenged to take notes of struggles and triumphs of your mentees and use that in future meetings to further your conversations!
ENGAGEMENT AND TRANSITION RESOURCE
Campus and Major Engagment
Peer Mentors are an extension of the First-Year Eningeering Program, which means one of the main focuses is helping our students transition from high school to the University of Arkansas. Feeling a sense of belonging, by finding their niche on campus, is a critical part having students succeed. Peer Mentors assist in this process by providing their experience within the College of Engineering and at the University of Arkansas to their mentees. By drawing on your own means of engagement with the campus (such as sharing your experiences joining a club, org, Greek Life, etc.) or resources you've utilized on campus you can help make these new opportunities feel more relatable to a student who might be struggling taking in all the changes of that first year. Being knowledgeable of campus and Engineering specific resources is a must, but will also be trained on, along with feeling comfortable referring individuals to specific resources when you notice issues and/or needs arise.
Recognizing, Referring, Reassuring
Another major aspect of the Peer Mentor position is acting as an academic resource. This does not mean you are needed as a tutor, but more so that you are needed as a "first responder" to academic issues. The Peer Mentor program is closely linked to the Academic Advisers and Instructors within the First-Year Engineering Program and the nature of your weekly meetings will lead you to learn more from and about your mentees than an adviser or instructor can. You will need to have academically focused conversations, notice "red flags" or potential signs of academic distress and be able to timely refer your mentee to appropriate resources and also inform the FEP staff by contacting the Student Services Specialist. Attention to detail and the ability to communicate with the Student Services Specialist in a timely manner are needed to succeed in this capacity.
SO WHY BE A PEER MENTOR?
Why should you be a Peer Mentor? Well that is a question only you can answer. What we can say, however, is that all of our current mentors and past mentors have found something of value from this experience. Whether they are individuals who take great pride in helping others, individuals looking to improve their own communication skills or just individuals looking for a paying job with flexible hours, our mentors always seem to come away with something.
While this isn't a job for everyone (Engineers are already strapped on time as it is), it is one that we believe can be fun, rewarding and has helped countless former mentors enhance their resume for their career search. This role is one that balances many unique skills that other Engineers won't ever encounter otherwise.
Don't just take our word for it! Here are some thoughts from current mentors:
PAST PEER MENTORS
"After serving as a peer mentor for the last three years, I’ve gained close connections to people throughout the College of Engineering. This comes from fellow peer mentors, my mentees, and the staff. Studying Biomedical Engineering, it can be easy to just be friends with people in the BMEG department; however, I have gotten to know several people people across all departments that I see every day in Bell or White Hall. With my mentees, I’ve gotten to seen them develop as Razorbacks as they become more invested into the U of A family. The staff of the FEP is always there for me. I’ve gotten to enjoy conversations with them about their families, experiences, and interests which helps me better understand the love they have for the program."
Walker Wiggins - Past Peer Mentor, 3 years
"As a peer mentor, I have enjoyed getting to know my mentees, and seeing their progress throughout the year. Not only do they gain insight from me, but I also notice myself learning through them. I have gained so much confidence and understanding of many different situations that I would have not otherwise. Although I feared starting my second year and trying to rebuild the same rapport with a new group, the experience never stops giving. Every different person introduces something unique to your life, and there is nothing to be afraid of."
Victoria Klaus - Past Peer Mentor, 3 years
"What I have enjoyed most about being a peer mentor is seeing my mentees adjust to college successfully. It also fun to see them get comfortable in our meetings and start opening up to me instead just waiting for me to finish the script. It is cool to see them ask questions and tell me what classes they are struggling in then they figure out the problem and get the job done. I have learned a lot about myself from being a Peer Mentor. Mainly about my communication and organization skills."
J'Sante Warren - Past Peer Mentor, 2 years
"As a peer mentor I’ve gained a more diverse understanding of people and how they communicate, act, study, behave, etc.. and how to best accommodate for that. I think it will be something very useful in my career. The thing I’ve enjoyed most is having people that look up to you for guidance, and then seeing them achieve their goals throughout the semesters and years (if they stay in touch)."
Tori Alexander - Past Peer Mentor, 3 years
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN BEING A PEER MENTOR?
Before completing an application, please take some time to review the "Recruitment Packet" below. Please also take some time to consider your own availability for next year. This role is a two semester (full academic) year commitment with weekends utilized for training and special events and requires you being available in August prior to the start of the semester for our 3 day training. Per week you will be using up between 5-6 hours to conduct your one-on-one meetings and meeting with the Student Services Specialist.
For all questions regarding the application process or the Peer Mentor role please use the following contacts