Rahnuma Chowdhury, a fourth-year public affairs and policy management student, shares how her experience as a Peer Helper has given her skills for success in and out of the workplace.
My two years spent as a Peer Helper at Carleton have been anything but routine. First, I never even thought I would ever become a Peer Helper. Until I was asked to step in for a girl who had dropped out of the program, I did not even know what a Peer Helper was. What I have come to understand, and love most about this program, is that its benefits work two ways. Peer Helpers not only develop their own leadership skills, but they also help enrich their fellow students’ Carleton experience.
I am a Peer Helper for the Tutor Referral Service at Learning Support Services in the library. I both create and present workshops that provide Carleton’s tutors with the skills and knowledge necessary to work with other students. Most of my workshops don’t tell tutors what chapters they should be covering or what equations they need to memorize. Instead, they focus on equipping tutors with the understanding they need to deal with all sorts of people from different backgrounds with different learning styles. My favourite part, naturally, is when I can get the tutors to be more active and engaged in my workshops (I often employ lego or lollipops to do this. I’m not joking).
Aside from candy, the biggest takeaway I have from my Peer Helper experience is not what I have taught other people, but rather what I have learned from other people. The lovely women I have worked under both years as a Peer Helper have taught me a lot about how to maintain a well-balanced schedule, relax, and genuinely enjoy what I am doing. Their encouragement is what led to me to become so comfortable with presenting in front of large groups independently (a skill that proved valuable in my current job as an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant). My co-Peer Helpers at LSS have shown me the importance of getting to know the people who you work with; it makes things a lot more enjoyable when your colleagues are also your friends! Finally, I owe so much of my leadership development and learning to the students in my workshops. Without them cueing me in on what works or what doesn’t, challenging me on advice that doesn’t ring true to their reality, and thanking me when I get it completely right, I wouldn’t have had half the knowledge I have now.
Submitted by Rahnuma Chowdhury, a fourth-year public affairs and policy management student.
To learn more about the Peer Helper Program at Carleton University, please visit carleton.ca/seo/leadership-development/peer-helper-program/