The Value of the SJSU SLIS Peer Mentor Program
Peer Mentors are students at SJSU SLIS . Debbie Faires, who runs the program, requests applications every semester. Peer Mentors assist students in LIBR 203, the required introduction to the tools and technology used at SLIS.
There are a number of good motivations for becoming a peer mentor. My motivations were an interest in helping students and a need for recent instruction experience. I taught a training class for U.S. Census enumerators, but that was back in 1990. I have had no previous experience in online instruction, and I thought that such experience would be useful for my future career.
The Peer Mentor program was established because LIBR 203 instructors teach multiple sections of the course, and cannot be everywhere at once. Vicki Steiner, the wonderful instructor that I’m assisting, teaches four sections of LIBR 203. Students are attempting to finish the course quickly, and will often need immediate assistance.
Peer mentors have more to offer students than their availability. We can offer our experience as students in the program. We can offer practical suggestions about study habits and organization. We can make recommendations for courses in the areas that interest individual students, and tell you about their workloads. We can tell you who to contact at SJSU SLIS if you have a particular problem. If we don’t know, we can find out. That is the value of having a mentor.
Those who are training for the information professions are in the business of helping people. This means that successful candidates for an MLIS degree want to help others. I have found librarians and archivists outside of SLIS who were willing to assist me. This is an advantage of being part of a helping profession. Students at SLIS should look for mentors along their career path. The best way to find mentors is by joining professional organizations, but students can also find mentors through volunteering and through internships.
I hope that my students in LIBR 203 will take full advantage of the opportunity of having a mentor, so that can be more successful students.