Vanessa King, a third-year journalism student, writes about how her experience as a Communications and Outreach Peer in the SEO has continued her education outside of the normal university curriculum.
Whenever I begin the tedious but necessary task of summer job searching, I always end up asking myself the same question: How am I ever going to get a job if they all require experience, but no one wants to hire me until I have experience?
Cue the Peer Helper Program at Carleton University. Run by the Student Experience Office (SEO), this program was designed to help students develop skills by giving them opportunities to learn from experienced staff at Carleton in a number of positions and areas. As a Communications and Outreach Peer at the SEO, I’m finally getting the experience in PR and communications that will be necessary for me to be hired after graduation.
The Peer Helper Program has helped me gain a number of new abilities since I started just a few months ago. My boss, William Johnson, has shared his expertise in communications with me since I began working. Our first project was the tedious process of writing effective communications plans. After that, he shared how using traditional outreach tools, like social media, have important communication roles beyond just sharing pictures of your meals with friends – don’t worry, my mind was blown, too. Through using Facebook and especially Twitter, a message can be shared with a large audience at minimal cost and effort.
As a Peer Helper at the SEO, I am also the co-editor of the Learning Log, a new blog that allows students to share their positive and rewarding experiences while at Carleton. Writing this post has led to a number of “blog-ception” jokes around the office, as my writing a log on the Learning Log is entering the second level of inception… keep posted to see if I take it another level.
In all seriousness, the Learning Log has taught me a lot about the various projects and programs offered at Carleton while also giving me valuable experience with WordPress and formal editing processes. These skills will help to set me apart from other applicants in the future.
Most importantly, the Peer Helper Program has provided me the opportunity to see Carleton in an entirely new light. I know every student has heard this before, but getting involved on campus is one of the most rewarding things you can do during your university career. I waited a few years to experience this first hand.
I have met so many fantastic people during my short time at the SEO. The other peer helpers and student staff are all down to earth, lovely people. My boss, Will, is one of the funniest and most intelligent people I’ve ever known. And everyone else in the office is patient and willing to have a quick chat to empathize about student issues. The SEO has fostered a sense of community for me at Carleton beyond just being a normal student who attends classes and complains about how busy the bus is.
Finally, my work at the SEO has given me a sense of importance that goes far beyond my resume. The Learning Log is the clearest example of this, as having an actual website that you have access to and helped build is a concrete example of your work that other people can enjoy and consume.
If you’re looking for a way to get involved on campus while meeting great people and learning skills that will definitely help you in the future, the Peer Helper program is for you. If I wasn’t a Peer, I wouldn’t have had any of these fantastic experiences… and I’m only halfway through!
Submitted by Vanessa King, a third-year journalism student.
Find out more about the Peer Helper Program at Carleton by going to carleton.ca/seo/peer-helper-program