When I first heard the title of my future co-op job, I was confused as to what it meant and how exactly someone could be successful in it. After four months, I can say I still might not fully understand the impact of my role, but I do know how I can do it successfully. I am the Engagement Programming Assistant (EPA) for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) here at Simon Fraser University. I can break down the role into three different parts: empowerment, transition, and communication. Empowerment involves the Peer Connections Mentorship Program and the 56 mentors that are a part of the program. Transition is about their mentees better known as the incoming first year students at SFU. Communication encompasses everything else!
As the EPA, I have 56 students, some 3rd and 4th year, mostly 2nd year students who are committed to making a difference within FASS and SFU. They are mentors, taking time out of their day to help another student that needs it. I get to coordinate them and empower them. Through one on one meetings or back and forth emailing, my tasks include providing support where it is needed. Whether that means changing their availability for a volunteer event or helping someone figure out their priorities for the term. The biggest event with mentor participation this summer has been FASS Camps. This three-day camp was an introduction to SFU for incoming first year students. Over 55 students registered and over 30 mentors volunteered for all three days and as the EPA I was coordinating all of them. Making and revising the morning and afternoon mentor schedule for each day with updates was a daily task. During the camp, I was ensuring the mentors were facilitating conversation among all the participants and the students felt comfortable throughout the three days. The feedback from them highlighted that the event was a hit. Multiple hand-written comments were about the mentors, how amazing they were, and how they added to the overall friendly environment that existed in FASS camps.
The mentors exist because there are students that need them. As the EPA, I am working to integrate the new (international and domestic) students into FASS through the mentors. Helping students transition into university life and doing what I can to help them have a successful first year. That includes having mentors be knowledgeable about all the resources offered at SFU and knowing what to suggest when a student asks for help. As well as ongoing connection with the students and being willing to reach out if they don’t, to check in and see how their semester is going. Since these are all tasks I cannot do alone, it is my responsibility to ensure my mentors know to do these things with their mentees and help ease their transition.
Communication: The Everything Else!
As the EPA, communication is a vital part of this role to separate all the different programs I am helping coordinate and ensuring their success. In addition to the peer mentors, we have Peer Educators, the Departmental Student Unions, and Social Media marketing. Peer Educators help facilitate the FASS FAM’s, the DSU’s are responsible for student engagement within their departments, and I control the social media updates on fass.engage Instagram and Facebook pages.
This engagement role would not be complete without the EPA’s willingness to transition, empower and communicate within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. All of this was the summer semester, I can’t wait to see what fall will bring.
Beyond the Blog
Want to learn more about Co-op? Check out the FASS Co-op page!