I would like to think that it didn’t take an entire village to raise me, but it did take four very special people – mentors – to help me along in my time at TRU. They were professors and employers, but mostly people that I am still proud to call my friends. They spent endless hours in their offices with me discussing professional and personal goals. They always had Kleenex on hand for when my problems were overwhelming and they cheered me on as every year I became a little bit closer to reaching my goals.

I think sometimes people feel like in order to really give back, especially perhaps as the alum of a university, you have to wait until you’re old and grey and have a full bank account so you can sign a big cheque and get your name put on a building. And while that sounds awesome, I won’t be there for quite a few years. And since I’m fresh out of school, my experience is relevant now.

trumentor

So this summer I registered for the TRU mentorship program and hoped they might find a spot for me. I was lucky enough to be one of the “industry professionals” skyping in to speak with students in a sort of speed-dating format last Monday night at their Networking 411 – Tourism event. I was impressed that most of them were first-year students and while many were unsure of what to ask, they all knew it was important to be there. I spoke with seven different students – most of them event planning or general Arts.

The best part was that I logged off of Skype feeling like I was back a part of the TRU community again. I don’t miss school at all, but I do miss wandering around the TRU campus and chatting with all my favourite staff and faculty. So when several of them jumped in front of the laptop to ask me how Winnipeg is, I felt like I was “home”. I’m hoping this was just the very small start to a long career of helping some students make the transition from the classroom to workplace or even just become more comfortable on campus. And this is also my sneaky way of making sure I never really leave TRU.

I encourage you to check out the TRU Mentorship program and sign up for a one-time networking event or a semester-long pairing with a student.

For the first time since I was a very little girl, I am not heading back to school this week. And while I am proud of everything I accomplished in the academic world, I am not missing it this fall. I like to think that I didn’t waste my time while I was studying at TRU for the last five years – I got involved, I traveled, I worked and I met many people. For those of you who are showing up to campus for Orientation tomorrow, here is my advice to make it the best 4/5/6/7/8+ years of your life:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • Say yes… and then say no. You may think you know exactly what field you want to study and work in, but high school doesn’t expose you to much. I decided to say “yes” to random elective courses and introductory workshops the first two years of my degree. Even if I felt like it wasn’t the right fit, it meant that when the time finally rolled around to declare my major, I was confident in my decision. Which brings me to saying “no”. The last few years of my degree I toughened up and said no to opportunities that weren’t in line with the future I was working towards. It was difficult, but it meant I wasn’t a hot mess trying to do everything and succeed at nothing.
  • Live it, don’t tweet it. I absolutely love this video that I found online. We live in an era (especially you university freshmen) when everything we do is immediately posted to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. But please don’t get so caught up in taking selfies before your Friday night out that you forget to look friends in the eye and have a genuine conversation with them. Take in the sights, sounds, smells(?) around you so that fifty years from now you can remember what it felt like to be there.
  • Get involved. University really has something for everyone: student government, intramural leagues, co-op work experience, study abroad, student clubs, research grants, campus newspaper, and the list goes on. Please do not be the person that ONLY does their homework. Find something else you are passionate about and sign up!  This could end up taking your life plans in an entirely new direction or at least show you are capable of more than essays when you graduate.
  • Do it your way. When I registered for my classes in first year, my academic advisor told me to do five courses per semester so I was done in four years. As soon as I arrived on campus, I found out most of my friends were taking four and I met people who were just finishing their bachelor degree after six years. After having a near meltdown trying to write five midterms at once, I decided for the rest of my time at TRU I would only take four classes. Everyone has different needs (and stress levels), do what works for you and don’t worry about anyone else.
  • Every four months is a fresh start. So you failed a course, broke up with your boyfriend, or are stuck in a job you hate – so what? University is the only time in your life when people expect a four-month commitment from you and every September, January, and May you have a chance to start over again. I gave myself a new challenge every four months and because of this, I accomplished a lot more than I ever thought I could in five years.

Good luck and have fun to all you new TRU rookies! And to the alumni – what advice would you give if you were to do it all over again?