The Benefits of Peer Mentorship

Riley Strawbridge (’19)

We spoke with Riley Strawbridge (’19), a Peer Mentor, about his experience thus far. “Working as a peer mentor was the best step to prepare me for my career after college,” Riley said. “It provided me both with a fantastic support network and also gave me the knowledge of what it takes to land a career. The Hub is a great space for personal development, all of the Career advisors are helpful and often will have a conversation directly with you on what you hope to do for a career.  Everyone in the space wants to see you succeed, and it makes the often nervewracking process of applying and interviewing much easier.”

We asked Riley how being a Peer Mentor has helped him personally feel more prepared to take on a job after college. Riley responded, “The NACE Competencies that I have solidified while working as a Career Peer Mentor are Professionalism and Work Ethic and Career Management. Being a Peer Mentor has given me exposure to hundreds of people’s stories about how they applied to a job. I have been able to take that information and create a good sense of how best to handle yourself in a professional environment. Being a Peer Mentor also has allowed me to practice my Career Management skills. I often give students my own elevator pitch to give them an example of what one should sound like. Through this I have learned how best to express my skills, interests, weaknesses and experiences.”

Finally, we asked Riley what advice he’d give to students who were interested in becoming a Peer Mentor for next year. Riley said, “I think that Peer Mentoring is the best way of learning how to do a specific skill. If you have to teach other students about career preparation then you will leave the position being way more comfortable in it. The best way for students to prepare for their career is engage in UVM’s community whether it be joining a club or finding a job. Becoming an active member of UVM’s community creates so many valuable connections going forward.”

Interested in applying to be a peer mentor? Applications are due March 30th!

Intern & Change the World? Yes, You Can!

Amanda Morelli, ’17


Amanda Morelli (2017), a cultural anthropology and environmental studies major, spent her junior year studying abroad. With the help of a UVM Internship Scholarship, she was able to return to Central America in order to work with DESGUA, an organization that focuses on empowering returned and potential migrants through educational and economic justice.

Amanda credits this internship experience with helping to clarify her interests and goals. She notes, “Overall, my experience helped me explore my options of what I wanted to do after UVM. It confirmed that I was on the right track; that racial justice, youth development, and immigration/refugee related services are what I’m most passionate about. Being abroad also helped me realize that I want to pursue these interests more or less domestically, rather than internationally. My time abroad provided me with an extensive, more holistic comprehension of just how much of a dominant superpower the United States was, and continues to be. Throughout my time in Guatemala, I witnessed the horrible ways in which U.S. corporations, U.S. foreign policies, and the historical U.S. intervention has continuously brought injustices amongst the local people. That within itself really pushed me to want to work on creating long term, positive institutional and social change within my own country. Furthermore, Americans have this idea that they have to go to a developing country in order to make a difference, which very much plays into problematic concepts such as voluntourism and the white-savior complex. The reality is though, that help is needed right here in our own country and who better to work on that than us.”

Amanda’s experience combined career development, cultural immersion and community involvement. She describes her internship: “As an intern, the majority of my work involved translating, advertising, interviewing returned migrants, assisting with budget and sale strategies, and implementing various workshops and presentations for incoming foreigners. However, my time there also involved a lot of farming and really getting to know the local communities.”

For Amanda, living abroad and working with DESGUA helped her to stretch herself. She shares, “Forcing myself outside of my comfort zone in terms of living conditions, language, culture, and isolation thoroughly helped me gain confidence in both myself and in my abilities. I was able to enhance my Spanish skills significantly and learn a great deal about the complex causes and effects of migration in Guatemala specifically.”

Amanda has built upon her experiences at UVM and in Guatemala and now works at Clark University in the Multicultural and First-Generation Student Support office. She reports, “I really love the work I do. The Mosaic Center for Students of Color is what made my experience at UVM and so I’m excited to be given the chance to empower other students of color in that way.”

Sometimes great internship experiences like Amanda’s can seem out of reach. UVM Internship Scholarships are designed to help make it possible for you to participate in this kind of life changing experience.  Do you want to apply? Learn more about UVM Internship Scholarships here.

Be Open To What Comes Your Way!

“It’s important to be kind to everyone you meet and to be open to opportunities—even ones that don’t initially seem like something that exactly fits in with your career goals,” reflects Jesse Cannon (’17). “It’s good to have a focus, but it’s okay to branch out. ” Jesse is currently a stage technician at Walt Disney World. She began working full-time just two weeks ago, after completing an internship she landed by networking with contacts her UVM professor introduced her to.

Reflecting on how she got to where she is, Jesse notes attending job fairs, conferences and job prep events (like Gear Up for Graduation) as key stepping stones. “It was really great to talk to everyone at Gear Up. I got some valuable feedback on presentation, learned about the job search process and really valued having my resume looked at by the resume doctors.”  Additionally, Jesse notes, “the LinkedIn and LGBTQA booths at Gear Up were both extremely helpful in approaching the process from the context of the real world outside of the college bubble. Definitely attend if you can, I’m so glad I went.”

Peer Mentors Making a Difference

Mehanna HeadshotMeet Mehanna Borostyan, a junior studying Political Science & Global Studies and a Senior Career Peer Mentor at The Hub. Mehanna was an office assistant in the Career Center as a first-year student, where she learned about the peer mentor opportunity through natural networking. She clearly recalls one conversation with staff member Jill Hoppenjans who encouraged her to consider the opportunity. The idea of growing into a leadership role and helping her peers by sharing her own experiences was appealing and she applied. Continue reading

Happenstance + You

Cameron and Amanda, matching outfits

I worked at the Career Center this summer as a part of my NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program (NUFP) internship in at UVM,. I want to share how this experience has caused me to reflect on my work experience and how I arrived here. Continue reading