My name is Zainab and I became an Academic Peer Helper (APH) at the beginning of my 2nd year in the Business Management program. I first saw the position on the Career Boost website back in August 2015 before starting my 1st year here at Ryerson. I remember telling myself that after I took the 1st year courses that were required to tutor, I would get the grades that I needed, apply and try my best to get the job. The APH position in particular caught my attention because I could help others, which is something I’ve always been passionate about.

Zainab Patel

When I applied for the role in July 2016, I was a little nervous because of my lack of work experience. I had volunteer experience as a teacher’s assistant but not work experience that many students have while completing high school. After going through the interview process, despite the limited experience I had, I got the job. I feel like this is something that some other students can relate to, as not all of us have worked before starting university.

What I Do as an APH

As an APH, I facilitate study groups and small group sessions focused on improving students’ confidence and performance in their courses. I act as a positive TRSM representative by supporting and being respectful to the students that came into the Tutoring Room (at TRS 3-051) and by sharing knowledge about on-campus resources that can help them improve and achieve their academic goals. I attend weekly team meetings with my supervisor and teammates that address inquiries from the week, keep informed, and contribute to discussions that allow us to reflect on student and program needs.

One benefit that I really love is the opportunity to work on campus.  I know many students work off campus which may require an additional commute. This can be time-consuming, expensive, and difficult to arrange while completing several courses (especially if you don’t live close to campus and commute to get to Ryerson every day). Working at TRSM allows me to finish my shift and walk to class in minutes. My work schedule is arranged around my classes so that there are no conflicts. I work about 10 hours per week, which provides me enough time to achieve my academic goals, and the shifts are not long periods. On average, each shift ranges between one to four hours, which is perfect for the gaps we tend to have between classes. Working as an APH has allowed me to network and develop positive relationships that I would not have if I did not pursue this position.

Communication and Time Management Skills

During my time as an APH, I’ve learned a great deal and improved a variety of skills. My ability to communicate with others in a clear and effective manner has greatly improved. I have been put into situations where I had to discuss complex concepts with students that learn in diverse ways. I would break the concept down into steps and then review them in several ways by explaining verbally, using the board and images for visual learners, and using examples that relate to the students. This ensured that students of different learning needs could understand the material. In addition, my time management skills were developed to a higher level in this position. During sessions where some students have specific questions, some students need detailed explanations for a concept requiring more time, while others want to go over problems quickly. There are many things that need to be considered in order to effectively manage time to ensure that all students can be tutored with appropriate attention.

I also learned how to be resourceful in terms of knowing what resources are offered and knowing where and how to find them. While tutoring students, they often share stories about struggling to manage their time, or having a problem that prevents them from being able to perform during their midterms. As an APH, it is my responsibility to listen to their concerns and make appropriate recommendations/referrals. At first, I was not aware of all the available resources, so I would take the initiative to ask my Lead APH or other APHs if there was a resource that could help the student. I would also provide the students with the information they needed to find the resource, so that they could use this assistance to navigate their challenges. Being able to effectively communicate, manage time, and having resourcefulness are crucial in any field. Developing these skills now rather than later will help me stand out of the crowd of students when applying for jobs or co-op.

A Rewarding Student Experience

Having the opportunity to work with students and help them achieve academic success is a rewarding experience. Having a student come back the next term and say “Hey, because of your help and all the time you spent tutoring me, I reached the mark I wanted in the course” makes all the effort that goes into tutoring worthwhile. After the Fall term ended, I expressed interest in the Lead APH position for the Winter term and I got the job! I worked very hard as an APH; I tried to go above and beyond expectations in all categories, and I am passionate about helping others. I was excited to develop these skills further in a Lead APH role.

Overall, my experience as an APH and working with the Academic Success Centre has been positive and rewarding. The team is very friendly and I am happy to support their initiatives designed to help students achieve their academic, professional, and personal goals. I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with such an amazing group of people and in such an inclusive and diverse environment.

Become an APH: We are currently accepting applications for the Academic Peer Helper role for the 2017-18 Fall and Winter Terms. You can apply online by Thursday, July 20 at 4:59pm. If you have questions, feel free to contact Dan Cantiller, Student Success Facilitator, at dancan@ryerson.ca.

Posted by Zainab Patel

Zainab Patel is currently working in the position of Learning/Transition Support Special Projects Assistant for the Summer Term. She is a 3rd year Business Management student majoring in Real Estate and minoring in Finance. Zainab has previously worked as an Academic Peer Helper for QMS 102 (Business Statistics I) and QMS 202 (Business Statistics II).