Written by: Eileen Magill
There is much more to a job than simply the weekly paycheques. This statement is especially true in regard to working on a university campus. In my second year attending Trent University Durham, I began to realize that I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with students to work through our confusion and anxieties together. With the company of others, we were able to curb these anxieties and discover new ways of transitioning into university life. My friends and I found most of our help through Trent University Durham’s Academic Mentoring Program. Not only did mentors help us feel more comfortable on campus, they also helped us with our academic struggles. This crucial resource helped us make the best of our year and I knew that in the future I also wanted the opportunity
to help other students make the best of their university experience.
Thus, in my third year at Trent University Durham, I volunteered and became an Academic Mentor. The feeling of satisfaction when I knew I had helped a student academically or
made them feel even slightly more comfortable on campus made the extra volunteer hours completely worth it. I witnessed many of my first and second year anxieties in the students I helped and knew firsthand the difference I was making for them.
These feelings of satisfaction are what inspired me to apply for the Academic Mentoring
Coordinator position in my fourth year. Trent University Durham’s Academic Advisor and I spent countless hours brainstorming, rewriting, and restructuring the program in ways we believed would improve new students’, as well as academic mentors’, experiences in a university setting. I found, that although I was receiving a paycheque, this was equally as satisfying as being a volunteer in the Academic Mentoring Program. In fact, the juxtaposition of my experiences as a volunteer and my experiences as a paid worker encouraged me to change my entire future career goals.
My realization that a volunteer position is just as fulfilling as a paid position inspired me to chase my long-time goal of becoming a journalist/editor, rather than a teacher. My desire to teach was founded in my desire to help others; however, the Academic Mentoring Program helped me reach the conclusion that I don’t need to get paid in order to help others. In fact, I realized I could be more of a help to others in a volunteer position, all the while making money doing what I love – writing and editing. I would have never discovered this if it weren’t for my time in the Academic Mentoring Program. And although my story is a unique one, its premise is universal – working on campus adds to one’s university, and life, experience.