As the school year starts up again and classes begin, one IE staple is also kicking off… Mentorship Society.
Soon after accepting their place at IE University, students receive an email from the Mentorship Society. The optional extracurricular aims to match first-year students (referred to as Mentees) to older students (known as Mentors) in their same degree. On top of degree match-making, Mentorship Society sets out to match students based on common interests and goals. An aspiring soccer player may be matched with the captain of the team, and the ecologically minded fresher may be mentored by the Eco Club President. Once these matches are made, they are announced and opening events are slated for the upcoming weeks!
Personally, I did not know what I was getting myself into when I joined the Mentorship Society. I was just an anxious incoming first-year who filled out a form that landed in my inbox. Little did I know that those 10 minutes of filling out an introductory form would have a significant impact on my upcoming years at IE. Coming from the US, the IE University experience was quite different from what all my friends at home were experiencing. I was not at tailgates before football games, nor staying up late studying in a centuries-old library. That comparison started to tug at me a bit, and I started to wonder if this was the right university for me. When I was at this crossroads late into my first semester, I reached out to my Mentor. Thanks to the Mentorship Society’s match-making skills, I was coupled with an equally sarcastic and involved student from California, who also experienced similar feelings her first year. After grabbing a coffee with her at the tower and talking things out for an hour or two, I left our meeting feeling like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
Feelings like this are so normal for first-year students, and all I needed was to hear someone who felt similar pangs just a few years ago to validate what I was thinking.
Now, as a second year, I have the chance to return the favour and be a Mentor. I sat down with my own Mentor, Sofia Kritikopoulos, to understand how Mentorship Society has adapted and flowed with student needs in these past few years, as university life was turned upside down especially because of the pandemic:
“COVID made that transition even harder since we couldn’t see each other in person nor hold gatherings as a community. Students who were already struggling with their transition into university had the problem multiplied. That’s where Mentorship Society comes in, to hopefully alleviate some of those worries and difficulties that come with starting university.”
The 2022 school year promises to be as close to ‘normal’ as possible since the pandemic hit in 2019, so Mentorship Society is sure to have more of an in-person, hands-on approach. When asked, Sofia mentioned this unique characteristic that the program has that sets it apart: Mentees dictate how they want their experience to be.
“One of the great things about Mentorship is that apart from the base commitment, you have the freedom to design your year with your Mentees however you want. This makes for a really unique experience with each Mentee and I think that I took full advantage of that. Mentees who needed more attention or wanted more individual relationships could shape that with me however we wanted to.”
Mentorship Society at the end of the day is a way for students to connect, and many times, Mentors learn just as much from their Mentees. The first year of university always comes with growing pains, and these growing pains may be even greater because of the international nature of the student body. With so many of us coming from so far away, it is normal to feel isolated at times. Mentorship Society eases those first road bumps by building a foundation of people who may have been feeling those same things just 12 months ago. I feel lucky as an international student I had the framework in place, and I hope to do the same for my mentees as well.
Featured image by: Hannah Busing / Unsplash