Two summers ago I was pretty petrified by the prospect of leaving my village (verging on hamlet), and moving to Sheffield, the fourth biggest city in the UK. I’m from near York (not New York, as many people in fresher’s week excitedly misheard) so am almost local really, but it was daunting nonetheless!
So, when I received an email asking if I’d like to sign up to be a mentee with the University of Sheffield mentoring scheme, I jumped at the opportunity! In case you’ve not stumbled upon it before, here’s a brief explanation: a prospective student (the mentee) is matched to a current student from the same department (the mentor), whose role is to help to make the mentee’s transition to university life as smooth as possible.
Although I ended up settling in well and not requiring that much support, it was really comforting knowing that I could contact someone if I needed to. When I somehow managed to sign up for two seminars at exactly the same time, my mentor helped me resolve the situation, preventing me from descending into a mini meltdown!
Having benefited from a mentor in first year, this year I decided to apply to be one. It’s been a really rewarding experience, a fantastic opportunity to meet new people and help them settle into university life. Activities that I’ve done with my mentees include: showing them around campus, meeting up for a coffee/lunch, giving them a tour of the city centre and going to the Millennium Gallery. I keep in contact by email or Facebook too, and it’s been brilliant hearing how much they’re enjoying their time in Sheffield.
Also, this semester I volunteered to mentor Erasmus students; one of my mentees is from Texas and another from South Korea, so I’ve learnt about other cultures as well. I was even nominated for an Outstanding Mentor award by one of my mentees, for which I received a certificate, an Amazon voucher and was treated to a fancy lunch.
If you’re considering applying to be a mentor, I’d definitely recommend it. You’re trained beforehand, and given a booklet containing useful resources and contact details if you’re unsure about anything you’ve been asked. All you need to do is dedicate a bit of time offering to meet up with your mentees, be a friendly face and try your best to answer any queries/alleviate any concerns. It’s HEAR accredited and can go towards the Sheffield Graduate Award as well, which is an extra added bonus.
I’m looking forward to continuing as a mentor next year too!