As a sophomore, I have already built some level of comfort with my goals as a professionally developing individual. Those goals are mainly focused on combining my love of writing with my natural desire to help others. So, when I gained two new on-campus positions, I was eager to work in different environments that were both focused on helping other students. While working as a Peer Career Advisor at the Career Center and a Peer Writing Tutor at the University Center for Writing-based Learning, I have to come to observe many similarities between the positions. That being said, I have noticed connections that appear beyond the day-to-day tasks of each job.
As a Peer Career Advisor, the majority of my time is spent meeting with undergraduate, graduate, and alumni students to revise and discuss their resumes and cover letters so that these documents best reflect them as professional candidates. We also often discuss job search strategies and other modes of professional development. In addition to meeting with students in person, I provide suggestions for resumes and cover letters via email through the use of Microsoft Word’s “Track Changes” and “Comment” tools. Besides the day-to-day tasks, this position also requires various forms of outreach and on-going projects within the Career Center.
Similarly, as a Peer Writing Tutor, the majority of time is spent either meeting with students to discuss and revise various pieces of writing or providing written feedback through Microsoft Word’s “Comment” tool, as well as other summary and commenting techniques. Also, similarly to my Peer Career Advisor position, working at the UCWbL requires various forms of professional development within the Writing Center community.
I’m sure the explicit similarities between these two positions are obvious to some extent. However, it is below the surface where the mindsets and overarching goals that are associated with these peer positions start to really overlap and become interesting.
Within any type of appointment, either in person or emailed feedback, the first step is building a peer to peer relationship. At either job, this is important because it puts the Peer Career Advisor or the Peer Writing Tutor at an equal basis with the student. This idea is one that was focused on in the training sessions associated with each position; however, as the quarter progressed, I found that this is a concept I find extremely valuable.
In both of these work settings, it can be intimidating to share one’s resume or writing assignment, for they hold accomplishments, thoughts, and ideas that belong to the student. It for this reason that I make sure I have created an open, relaxing environment fostered around this peer-to-peer relationship in every appointment. My hope is that, with this environment and with this relationship, the student feels comfortable discussing their thoughts and ideas in a way that they haven’t before.
In addition to the importance of a peer-to-peer relationship in both of these positions, I have also begun to realize the big picture objectives behind these on-campus communities and the associated position. At both the Career Center and the UCWbL, the goals developed with each appointment are not short term or based around helping students with one single task.
Yes, in the moment of each appointment, there is an immediate goal of helping the student with what they have brought with them, whether it is their resume or academic assignment. It is important to help the student with what they are asking assistance for during the appointment. However, in both communities, there is the larger goal of working with the student so that they gain knowledge that can be applied to other assignments and experiences.
Essentially, each community wants students to gain knowledge that contributes to their growth as professional candidates or to their growth as writers. As a Peer Career Advisor and a Peer Writing Tutor, I am a resource to help students not only recognize where there is room for growth and what growth looks like them for as individuals, but also how to go about actually moving forward and reaching their own goals.
I love that I am able to work at these two on-campus positions that help me develop as an individual while helping other students do the same. I look forward to the quarters to come working at both the Career Center and the UCWbL, and I’m sure there are many more connections to discover and aspects of myself to piece together in order to help and work with other students.