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Connect Concordia is back and more popular than ever

After a successful pilot phase, the student-staff mentorship program moves online
February 8, 2021
By Candice Pye

A group of three young woman working on a project around a table. Emily Andrews (middle) and colleagues collaborating in the early stages of the project. Image taken pre-pandemic.

After a successful pilot year, the Connect Concordia student-staff mentorship program is continuing to see a rise in participation. Roughly 40 pairs have now taken part in the program.

Third-year communication studies undergrad Emily Andrews started Connect Concordia in fall 2018. Since then, the student-led program has blossomed.

“Connect Concordia brings the Concordia community together in a way that previously wasn’t possible,” says Andrews. “We’ve had so much incredible feedback from our participants.”

Andrews attributes the program’s success to the community members’ desire to reach out and help, and to learn from each other. Connect Concordia allows students to be in touch with people who work at the university while also allowing staff to benefit from students’ perspectives.

Connect Concordia has been supported by the Sustainability Action Fund, Concordia Council on Student Life, the Faculty of Arts and Science, and now is in partnership with the Student Success Centre.

“A few of our pairings have gone on to keep the relationship going, staying in contact since their initial meeting,” says Andrews.

Andrews originally took on Connect Concordia as a final project and later an independent study. But since the early days, she has continued to steadily grow the program.

“Our pilot year went as well as it possibly could have,” says Andrews. “Our numbers keep rising every semester and the enthusiasm from both staff and students is so rewarding.”

Andrews says that despite COVID-19 restrictions she is hopeful about the future of Connect Concordia.

“The only major change is moving online, which will be the way it is for the foreseeable future,” she says.

“I do think that Connect Concordia has adapted really well to the online environment. It’s more accessible in terms of time and transportation. Now, more than ever, it’s so important to just be able to connect with each other.”

In addition, Connect Concordia has been expanding its staff outreach, to be able to pair students with staff from as many areas within the university as possible.

“Essentially, each semester we bring people together who can learn from each other,” says Andrews.

Shoshana Kalfon, an academic advisor in the Faculty of Arts and Science, emphasizes the importance of Connect Concordia. “Students need to know that staff are people, too,” she says. “And staff need to see students outside of the regular interactions we have with them.”

Many other staff and students have said they too see the positive impact of Connect Concordia.

“There’s lots of uncertainty in the job market and students are unsure of the future,” says Alice Isac, experiential learning lead in the Office of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic. “I want to do more to prepare our students for life after graduation.”

Political science student Eddel-Quinn Kilingi says she learned a lot through her participation. “What stood out for me was how impactful informational interviews can be.”

Philosophy student Fadi Yousef expressed similar appreciation for his time with his Connect Concordia mentor.

“My mentor was clear and had concise feedback about their experience working in Concordia and other places,” he says. “Their points of view were excellent since they helped me understand what could fulfill employees’ needs and what contributes to their satisfaction in a workplace.”

Andrews will be graduating at the end of this academic year. “Now part of the Student Success Centre's FutureReady skill development program, Connect Concordia will be in safe hands,” she says. “It felt really good to come into a huge institution and, in my first semester, start a program that became an established part of the Concordia community.”

Andrews hopes one day students who participate in the program can receive academic credit for their mentorship experience. “For now, their participation can count towards a FutureReady Career Development Certificate,” she says.

Learn more about Connect Concordia and how to get involved.



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