If there’s one thing I have learned from my four years here at Ryerson, it’s the importance of getting involved in the community, whether that’s on or off campus. There are so many avenues to get involved in; personally, most of my experience lies with working on campus as a Work Study student. My first job was with the Tri-Mentoring Program as a Junior First Generation Ambassador. In grade 12, I was on a mission to get a job but struggled to do so because I lacked work experience. I found it impossible to land a job, since no one wanted to take the risk and give me that first chance. That’s when the Tri-Mentoring Program came to the rescue.
Here are some key things I learned about being a Work Study student:
It’s Ok to Fail
Student Affairs staff understand that work-study students are students first. We are all here to learn, in and outside of our classes. We are all looking for opportunities to develop, whether that’s stepping out of our comfort zone and trying something new, or taking on a position to sharpen our existing skills. The fear of failing and expectations to be perfect in our work is what holds most of us from creating new experiences. When placed in an environment that encourages us to challenge ourselves, the fear component is removed, or at least minimized. Through my experiences as a Work Study student, I was continuously reminded that it’s ok to fail, as long as I learn from the experience and didn’t make the same mistake twice.
Getting The Insider Perspective
When holding a Work Study position, you’re considered as the “go to” person for those who have any university related questions. You are an ambassador for your department specifically, and even Ryerson broadly. Being in that position forced me to educate myself beyond my classroom. I picked up on information I wouldn’t have had as a non-Work Study student. Even though I don’t know everything about Ryerson, I’m proud to say I’m familiar with most student support resources and policies and procedures. Having this knowledge has enabled me to better position myself as a student through various situations and make more informed decisions.
Your Supervisors are Your Mentors
The single most important thing I took away from being a work study student is the relationships I built with my supervisors. Initially, I just saw them as my boss/supervisor and someone I had to look busy in front of so I didn’t get fired. However, all my supervisors have made the effort to make me as comfortable as possible while working and have accepted me for who I am. All my supervisors are people I consider as mentors; they are people I can always talk to whether it’s work related or personal.
My mentors Rudhra Persad, Jennifer Barcelona and Akeisha Lari (all full time staff at the Tri-Mentoring Program and Student Life) have helped me countless times during my four years here. Through their mentorship, I was given access to their networks, exposed to job opportunities, was given reference letters and even nominated for multiple awards. Above all, what I cherish the most is the friendship and level of understanding I share with them.
Now Your Whole Team’s Here
Before working in the Tri-Mentoring Program I had zero work experience. The only relatable experience I had was the 40 volunteer hours I needed to get to graduate high school. At the time, I didn’t realize that volunteering was the alternative route to gaining professional experience. Work study is definitely a great way to get involved on campus but it’s not the only one. Ryerson has a variety of student groups that range from the Quidditch team (seriously!) to the Muslim Student Association (MSA) to the United Black Students at Ryerson (UBSR). The amazing thing about Ryerson is that if you don’t see a student group on campus that you would like to get involved with, you can start own. During my time here I volunteered for multiple organizations, student groups, and programs that I had a genuine interest and passion for. I like to believe that my current position in the Orientation Team is the sum of all my past work/volunteer experiences.