Peer-to-peer mentoring is becoming more common on college campuses. Some departments have peer mentoring programs. Other times, students may connect with a mentor through their Honors Society or an extracurricular program.
In a peer mentoring relationship, one student tends to be a little older and more advanced, while the other tends to be less advanced. However, there are times when two students, often with different perspectives or approaches, can mentor each other from the same level.
So, why has peer mentoring become so common, and what benefits does it offer for the mentor and mentee? Take a look.
Working with a peer mentor gives you a chance to see your coursework and college career through a different light. You can go to your mentor with questions you have about a specific course, worries about pursuing a certain field, and so forth. Your mentor can listen to your perspective, and then provide their own. For example, if you tell your mentor, “I’m hesitant to take Eco 201 next semester because I’ve heard there’s a lot of hands-on work and I struggle with that,” your mentor might say “I found the hands-on work challenging, too, but now I’m glad I had that opportunity to build my skills.”
When you’re in college, it can sometimes feel like you’re the only one struggling with certain class material or having a hard time with certain decisions. This can lead to a lack of confidence, and in some cases, a sense of imposter syndrome. Working with a peer mentor is a good way to improve your self-confidence and reassure yourself that you’re not alone. As you get to know your mentor, it will become clear that they, too, are human — and probably struggle with a lot of the same things you do. Knowing that they have been able to push through and achieve can inspire you to do the same thing yourself.
Building a network is essential for finding positions post-college. It can be intimidating to start networking with professionals and upper-level executives in your field. But networking with other students is a more approachable way to start. Your peer mentor may be able to introduce you to more people in your field, helping you build your network. Networking with them is also a chance to build your networking skills so that months or years down the road, you are more confident networking with professionals.
When you are fresh out of college and looking for your first career position, hiring teams want to see that you have experience working and collaborating with others. Participating in a peer mentoring program gives you a way to demonstrate this sort of experience on your resume. Many mentees stay in the same peer mentoring program and start mentoring younger students themselves after a few years. When you’re involved in the same mentoring program for four years, that also shows longevity. It demonstrates to an interviewer that you stick around and stay involved for more than a few months, which is important.
Participating in a peer mentoring program, either as a mentee or a mentor, is a great way to meet others, start networking, expand your horizons, and build confidence. Look for a peer mentoring program through your university or through your honors society, and get involved. You can learn a lot by helping others — or by allowing them to help you.