My experience as an Academic Peer Helper

Becoming an Academic Peer Helper at the Academic Success Centre (ASC) is my best decision in university so far. It helps me develop essential skills, gain valuable knowledge, get to know new people, expand my network and motivates me in my academic and career journey.

This is my second semester working with the ASC as an Academic Peer Helper (APH). In this blog post I will share with you (a little bit of) everything you need to know about being an APH at ASC.

Did you know the ASC is currently hiring? See the end of my blog post to learn more about the available roles and visit our Get Involved webpage!

How did I become an Academic Peer Helper?

My friends always joked about how I was a “monster” for acing faculty-wide mandatory courses that they were struggling with. I supported them a lot with those courses, and I still remember how rewarding it was for me when they finally understood the complex concepts. I started looking for tutoring jobs on campus and I found the Winter term job posting for Academic Peer Helper and Peer Academic Coach positions on the Career Boost website. I quickly edited my resume and cover letter, gathered my references and submitted my application mid-November. I received an interview invitation just a day after the submission. I had an amazing interview with my supervisor, answering some questions about myself, my work preferences and situational questions. I received my offer less than a week later and was provided with clearly stated next steps. I was very excited!

Training

We had three days of four-hour virtual training sessions three weeks prior to our first day. I was in Vietnam at that time with a 12-hour time zone difference compared to Canada, so I was having those training sessions at 1 AM in the morning. But my eyes were wide-opened without any caffeine involved! During these training, besides tutoring-related training, I’ve learnt so much about resilience, diversity and inclusivity. 

My first few weeks

My first few tutoring sessions were scary. Supporting friends’ learning for fun and supporting students’ learning as a job are two different things. Some of the first few sessions went a bit overtime, while some went a bit undertime. However, with all the tips I got from training and discussions with other APHs, I was able to facilitate my tutoring session smoothly. I remember how happy I was to have returning tutees telling me that they had booked a few weeks in advance just to make sure they could get a session with me. 

What I got from the experience


Diverse skills

By facilitating tutoring sessions, I’ve developed and enhanced valuable skills: active listening, interpersonal, time management, building rapport, problem-solving and presentation skills, to name just a few. Moreover, as a student staff at ASC, we can join a Community of Practice of our interest, including Social Media/Promotion, Blog Post, Community Building and EDI (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion). I had the opportunity to further develop skills in social media and blog posting (and of course, showcase these skills in my resume!). 

Solidified knowledge

I have been able to solidify my knowledge in Statistics from providing tutoring in QMS 210 (Applied Business Statistics). To prepare myself for tutoring sessions, I have to do prep work and review of course materials – and I was paid for this review. Every time I review or explain a concept to the tutees, it also strengthens my understanding of that concept. Moreover, I also had the opportunity to learn more about resources available at the university that might be helpful for my personal development. 

Friends

There was not a single day in my life that I called people at the ASC team my “co-workers.” I call them “my friends at work.” We were all friends working together, who always helped each other out. Whenever something comes up, I know that I can always reach out to someone and have their support, and I know that I would do the same for them. 

“Hey Sandy, I just want to ask…”, “Hello Sandy, I just wonder if…” or “Hi Sandy, I know this is not related to tutoring but…”. I just know that Sandy Carpenter, our supervisor at ASC, is so used to getting silly questions and requests from me. Whether it is related to our work at ASC or not, I always feel comfortable asking her and I would always have her support to the fullest. 

Personal validation

Remember how I said it was rewarding for me when my friends understood the concept that I was explaining to them? Now I have this feeling multiple times a week whenever I have tutoring sessions. It provides me with personal validation that I can support others, that I am patient and passionate with what I am doing, that I have my peers wanting my support on their academic journey, and that I am good at what I do. It motivates me to keep on going on my academic and career journey.

Reality, kind of

It is not all fun and games, I admit. Even if being a straight A’s student is easy for you, it does not necessarily mean being a tutor is going to be easy as well. Everyone has different learning styles and approaches. The hardest part of being a tutor, in my opinion, is to find the most suitable approach to explain and solve the problems based on one’s learning style, and this could be even more challenging if you were having a group session. However, I believe, the more challenging it is, the more rewarding it will be after you’ve done it 

An Academic Peer Helper at ASC is a university student, just like you! There were times when students went to the tutoring sessions with questions that I was not sure about. It could be about the exam structure that was changed every year based on the professor, it could be about a specific scenario that I haven’t thought of before, or it could also be a course concept that I merely forgot at that time. This was when I learned to admit that I didn’t have the answer to everything. Not just that, I learned to multi-task to review my notes and materials to get the answer for the students, or refer them to other resources on campus that could help them with their questions and concerns. 

Join Our Team!

If you are someone like me who wants to work with a collaborative and supportive team environment, make good use of the ‘nerdiness’, and maintain a good work-life balance while gaining valuable experience, I would definitely recommend you apply to join ASC as a student staff.

We are currently hiring multiple student staff positions for the Spring/Summer 2022 and Fall 2022 terms:

Application deadline is Monday March 21, 2022 at 4PM EST. We welcome candidates with diverse experiences, skills, backgrounds and mindsets because we understand the value of a diverse and inclusive team. More information and application form can be found on our Get Involved webpage!

If you are interested in joining the ASC team as an Academic Peer Helper (APH) or Peer Coach (PC), more information can be found on our website. Hiring typically takes place in March or July for the Fall semester, and in November for the Winter semester.

If you have any questions or want to know more about working as an APH, feel free to contact tutoring.trsm@ryerson.ca by email. If you want to know more about being a PC, you can reach out to trsm.academicsuccess@ryerson.ca by email. We look forward to hearing from you!