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Mentoring Programs

In addition to the programs below, make sure to check out our co-curricular experiences to help develop your marketability for your future.

 

Get a STEM Professional as a mentor through our STEM Mentoring Program 

https://ess.unm.edu/programs/current-students/mentoring-programs/stem-mentoring-program/index.html 

SEMESTERLY DEADLINES: February 5 and September 5. Matches will be announced by the following Wednesday.

(Spring/Fall, but engagement can continue into the summer, as best fits the match. Looking for STEM Professionals to be mentors - generally not faculty).
 
Students (priority given to Freshmen and Sophomores, all “hard” STEM majors are welcome) are paired with STEM Professionals (most mentors are within Engineering & Computing fields) who mentor the students with whatever the student goals are - an informal relationship to help with career navigation and know what the working world is like. We ask for a 1 hour a week face to face commitment, one semester at a time. There are no citizenship or GPA requirements.

We asked our mentors: What is something you learned in undergrad that you want to share with the students? And this is what they said:
General Advice
  • Always periodically check the environment you are operating in as it changes and assumptions made based on previous checks may no longer be valid.
  • Don't dwell on bad grades or compare yourself to others, seek help and focus on improving yourself.
  • I learned in graduate school - how to evaluate what is important to me, what can bring me happiness in work, and how to develop myself as a good citizen outside of work.
  • I learned that there's often multiple ways to solve the same problem.
  • In undergrad school I learned that even if you are behind the rest of your class, you can rise to the top if you work hard enough.
  • It only take one thing to trigger one's interest and take it to his/her career. I was interested in the flow field over a baseball that motivate me into aerospace engineering.
  • It's okay to take your own path and advance your career on your own timeline.
  • Nothing is more important than doing your best. If you excel academically, you will gain confidence in your abilities and you will know your limits. If you don't excel, you will know you gave it your best effort, and perhaps you will even find a new or better fit for your talent. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and part of succeeding is knowing what these are and knowing what we are good at and what we are not.
  • Set goals and work hard, but don't forget to have a little fun along the way.
  • The realizationwhere I personally stand in the wide spectrum of human ability, higher than I thought.
  • You need desire to reach your goal - you need passion to excel at it - never quit in the middle - never give up - You have the ability to overcome any obstacle - Believe in yourself - I have reached beyond my goals overcoming comprehension disability my whole life.
Build Your Network
  • In undergrad I was somewhat lackadaisical about forming relationships with my peers and others I related to. Since graduating I have learned just how important relationships are for success in one's career. Because of this I would urge everyone in school to put extra effort into developing good relationships with all your peers, professors, and people you meet in industry. These people will become your colleagues and bosses, know your future colleagues and bosses, or at the very least be able to provide you with references for future jobs.
  • Join study groups and student organizations. It's extremely difficult to get through an undergraduate degree alone.
  • Networking is extremely important, it can open doors that you never knew existed and help you to find something you are passionate about. Also, find something you enjoy doing. Life is much better when you are excited to go to work.
  • Start networking and searching for a career at least a year before you a graduate.
  • The relationships you build with professors and fellow students are just as important as the engineering principles you learn. Many things I have earned in my career have come from networking and I still interact with my undergraduate friends professionally over a decade later.
Change is OK!
  • I realized about halfway through college that although I was an electrical engineering major, I enjoyed the physics side of EE much better than its other aspects. However, I couldn't switch majors since my scholarship was tied into the College of Engineering, so I took as many elective physics classes as I could. I ended up majoring in EE again in graduate school since MIT didn't offer an applied physics program, but again my research and coursework was physics-focused. Finally, upon starting at LANL as a postdoc, I was able to focus completely on physics, and haven't looked back since; I never take for granted the fact that I get paid to spend most of my time doing something I really enjoy. The lesson is that it's never too late to figure out what you really enjoy and find a way to make a career out of it.
  • One thing I learned, is that if you are not happy with your current career path, there is always opportunity to change, and not only change, but become successful in your new path. I studied Spanish for my undergraduate degree, and while I found it interesting, I knew science and engineering were really the fields I needed to expand into.  I was able to go back to school and eventually obtain my PhD in Materials Engineering, and am now happy with my career in this field.
  • There are many instances such as learning that hard work does eventually pay off or why I eventually chose to study materials science or how open houses in different departments helped me learn about whether I might like one engineering field over another.
Internships/On-the-Job
  • As an undergrad, I was told by one of my first engineering professors during freshman year that a good designer will, on day 1 at a new job, go down to the manufacturing or fabrication floor and get to know the technicians who will ultimately be responsible for building his or her designs. They have loads of key practical experience in how engineered objects or systems should be efficiently designed, and the best engineers will always learn from the techs, never thinking of themselves as "better" or something because of an advanced degree. This concept has served me well through my entire career, and the welders, assemblers, and gearheads have taught me tons.
  • Grades are key to getting internships. Internships are key to getting job offers.
  • I think that all undergraduate students should try to get an internship or Coop in the field they are majoring in prior to graduation in order to get a feel for what working in that area of expertise can entail in a real-world work environment.
  • That having internships are crucial to getting a job after your degree.
Supportive Skills/Professional Development
  • In almost every field and company I've worked in, communication and writing have been as important, if not more important than, my technical skills. Spending time in your education on writing and presenting really pays off when it gets you a much larger ability to influence technical decisions.
  • In many technical projects, project management has a bigger impact on the success or failure of the project than the technical skills involved.
  • Interests can change rapidly, but try to beware of your long-term goals and make an effort to define them early
  • Persistence pays off. There were so many moments in which I was unsure whether I would be able to succeed: learning a new concept, finding a research project, debugging some code, and countless others, many of which have since leaked from my memory. In each of those cases, persistence led me through the confusion or helped me find an alternative way around. STEM disciplines are uniquely challenging in that the textbooks seem to insist that there is one "truth or reality". In fact, there are many ways to solve a problem, and this is one of the most valuable lessons that persistence has taught me.
  • Thing big and think deep. Most of the real-world problems are multi-disciplinary where you need the help of others. Learn how to work with others. Learn how to learn from others. Learn how to weave together to achieve a bigger goal. The habit of lifelong learning is crucial between success and failure in professional life.
  • Undergrad engineering/STEM education is a collection of "solved equations"; there are exponentially more "unsolved equations" out there that don't have a unique formula to apply. Instead of focusing on memorizing the equations, focus on building intuition around the equations and understanding the trade space the equations are teaching you about. This will result in more lasting knowledge and more transferable skills to a career.
Take Advantage of Opportunities
  • During my undergraduate years, I did not have a role model or mentor to help me make smarter decisions about my future. I believe that if I worked with a mentor I could have learned of opportunities that would have enhanced my undergraduate experience and better prepare me for my career.
  • I only found out later on that there were lots of opportunities for undergraduate research, both during the school year and over the summer, and I wish I had known and been able to take advantage of these opportunities.
  • Keep an open mind and don't pass up opportunities. I've participated in a lot of research that I found boring or just not an area I was excited about - I still learned a lot from those experiences!
  • The most important thing I learnt was to ask. Many opportunities come when you ask for them.
The Importance of Time Management
  • I learned that time management is very important. Keeping on top of assignments is one of the keys to success in school.  Also, organizational and leadership skills are important, as many jobs today require you to work with others as a team on large projects, so having good interpersonal skills and being able to effectively delegate work is important as well.   
  • I worked and supported myself while completing my BS. I learned to balance work, classes and time to study with the goal of getting the best grades possible.  Note, "free" time wasn't part of this balance.  It comes down to making some trade-offs to achieve your goals and knowing you might not get everything you want.
  • I would say the key to success more than anything, and it is probably been said many times, but bears repeating is time management. My take and advice on developing or strengthening time management is making a daily and weekly schedule and adhering to it as much as possible, and getting work done before moving on to more enjoyable activities. Also I suggest prioritizing assignments in a weighted order that accounts for both soonest deadline and scale of work. The reason for this is it is always better to get started on lengthy and/or difficult tasks as soon as possible and clear the work load so these can be focused on. It also helps to develop a work plan and adhere to it for more lengthy and difficult tasks (like term papers or lab reports) by setting milestones and scheduled time on certain days to work on it. These same habits are also helpful in a career.
  • Time management is one of the most important things to learn.
Undergraduate life
  • Be cautious about undertaking too many credit hours in a single semester.
  • I think it's OK to take on too much at once, as long as you feel you're equipped handle it. I caught some heat as an undergrad for walking through every open door, whether that meant a different internship each summer or studying abroad in my senior year. But I'm grateful to have had such diversified experiences so that I can focus down in grad school knowing I'm doing my favorite thing.
  • Most people are winging it (students and professionals), and it's normal to feel like you don't really belong there despite being qualified (imposter syndrome). Success in undergrad can come mainly from being able to learn quickly and effectively while also being able to recognize when you need help. Asking for help doesn't always mean you've failed - it just means you've found one more new thing to learn!
  • Read your textbook!
  • Setting good study habits is key. For example: study for 2-3 hours each night Mon-Thur. Take Fri night and Saturday off. Then study 3-4 hours on Sunday. Ensure you put in the consistent effort to own the material and really know it, rather than cramming the night before. If you want to study with a friend, find the top student in the class, not someone who goofs off and doesn't have good study habits. If someone is difficult, put more effort into it and turn that weakness into a strength. Seek help from Professors, teaching assistants, tutors, or mentors to become excellent at what you do.
  • Study/life balance, good study habits.
  • The best advice that I can give is attend class, take notes, read the course book, and do homework with your peers. Grades don't matter as long as you learn, understand, and can apply engineering principles in your projects.
  • You are responsible for your education, not your professor.

 

Be a Peer-Mentor in our Peer-Mentoring Program

https://ess.unm.edu/programs/current-students/mentoring-programs/peer-mentoring/index.html

  • CHERRY SEMESTERLY DEADLINES: February 5 and September 5.  Matches will be announced by the following Wednesday.
  • SILVER (Nuclear Engineering students ONLY) DEADLINE: April 1. Matches will be assigned for the approaching Summer/Fall before the end of the semester.

(Spring/Fall, but engagement can continue as the peer-mentor decides. Looking for SoE students (incl. Grad) with at least 2 semesters within the SoE at UNM to be peer-mentors to new (incoming freshmen, transfer, or re-admit) students.)

The aims of the Cherry & Sliver Peer Mentoring Program are to assist our incoming students in their transition into the University of New Mexico, the university setting, Albuquerque, and anything else that comes along with being an undergraduate with the rigorous programs within the School of Engineering at UNM. 

 

Advice from our peer-mentors:

The main takeaways are YOU CAN DO IT! Stick with it. Make Connections. Ask for help. Use resources.

Summarized Advice By Topic

See the advice by major for full details.

  • Be optimistic and patient
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask why!
  • Don’t give up
  • Don’t let the magnitude of what you need to do discourage you
  • Don't compare yourself to others!
  • Get out of your comfort zone
  • Know when to step back and give yourself some space
  • Motivate yourself
  • Stick with engineering, you belong here even if sometimes you feel like you don’t
  • Do not be afraid to fail
  • Do not give up and failing sometimes is okay as long as you keep trying
  • Failing doesn’t make you any less of an engineer or any less capable of success
  • Fess up to your failures
  • It is okay to struggle while learning and taking classes
  • Put yourself in situations that are daunting to think about
  • You can totally prove your fears wrong with the right persistence
  • Be calm and try to enjoy every lecture
  • Focus studying on understanding the material, not just passing the class
  • Get to know your professors/build strong relationships with your professors
  • Go to class and do your homework
  • Go to office hours
  • Going/form study groups
  • It's okay to feel like you don't understand what's being taught
  • Reach out to your professors!
  • Read the textbook before class
  • Always seek someone's aid
  • Ask questions and email your professors or advisors for help!
  • It is OKAY to ask for help
  • Communication is important
  • Do what you enjoy and are passionate about
  • Embrace the new responsibilities
  • Find your niche
  • Fortune favors the bold
  • Have a plan
  • Have a system for how you do things
  • Have fun, but also to be a hard worker
  • Surround yourself with people who encourage you and make you feel comfortable
  • We all have different paths and stories
  • You don't have to do things in order
  • Connect yourselves within the SOE
  • Engage with your professors
  • Find an internship
  • Find people who enjoy what you enjoy and try and build a good support system
  • Get involved in extracurricular
  • Get started in the projects that your most interested now
  • Getting involved and enjoying all aspects of university
  • Make close friends and connections
  • Say “yes” to opportunities
  • Take every opportunity you get, but also be realistic
  • Use the resources on campus
  • There are a lot of resources on campus
  • There is plenty helped offered on campus
  • Balance academics with personal hobbies
  • Take things slow and don’t overwhelm yourself
  • There is no time to waste
  • Time management is the key
  • Treat these academic years as a marathon, not a sprint

Advice from our Peer-Mentors by Major

But, we encourage ALL of our students to read ALL of the advice.

  • The most important piece of advice that I could share to an incoming engineering or computer science student is don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t give up. It is not going to be easy but keep pushing through.
  • Believe in yourself before anyone else does.
  • The most important piece of advice I have is to connect yourselves within the SOE. There are so many opportunities to better yourself and gain funding, jobs, or experience.
  • I think the most important advice I can give anyone joining the department is to treat these academic years as a marathon, not a sprint. I think a lot of people, including myself, can get caught in the many stresses of academic life. Overcoming hurdles and issues day by day and being optimistic and patient will help new students in the long term and make them even more satisfied and happy with their decision as an engineering student. And most importantly, if students need help they should always seek someone's aid. It's crucial not just for them but also for their peers and community because no one wants to see other people suffering and going through hard times.
  • The most important piece of advice I want to share with incoming Engineering and Computer Science students is getting involved and enjoying all aspects of university. Most of my peers are hugely hung up on studying all day every day to keep their grades in tip-top shape. It's easy to become a "zombie student". However, getting involved in clubs and events, like this mentorship program, can lead to finding connections, making friendships, learn leadership skills, find internships, and, most importantly, having fun. It's possible to be a good student and enjoy it! It's all about balance and prioritizing one's life.
  • Learn to motivate yourself everyday and make close friends in the program.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions! And, engage with your professors. 
  • I want to share with them that we all have different paths and stories, just because ours does not look like someone else's does not mean we cannot succeed. I also would encourage them to have fun, but also to be a hard worker.
  • The one thing I wish I took serious is the advice to use the resources on campus, I did not go to may tutors nor did I go to the various resource centers on campus.
  • Join as many things as possible and get to know your teachers and the opportunities they give.
  • Time management is the key to everything while doing everything one step at a time. Always remember that everything that you do will affect the people around you.
  • Communication is the key to every successful career.
  • Find a study group that will want you to succeed as much as you want to succeed. Dont be shy, ask questions and make sure to put in the work. If you slack, it will catch up.
  • Whether it is a question about a course or about research, reach out to your professors! I emailed a prof asking for advice once on some degree questions, and he ended up offering me a paid research position during my freshman year. He said he didn't get a lot of undergraduates reaching out to him and he was impressed that I took the initiative to do so, even if it was just for advice.
  • Read the textbookbefore class, that extra bit of work goes a long way.
  • To try to go out of your comfort zone, I know that's easier said than done, but when you can give yourself that initial push, you can see opportunities open up and make some amazing friendships in the long run!
  • You do not have to do things in order. Everything is a case-by-case basis. It’s okay to be behind in things or ahead in things. You need to go at your own timeline even if that means taking longer than 4 years.
  • Don't stop learning. Stay curious.
  • As hard as it gets do not quit. You will learn to overcome obstacles. Also look at the small accomplishments of each semester. Take joy and appreciate the hard work you have put.
  • Be persistent, give your best, and don't stress a lot about the future.
  • Overthinking while overwhelmed can be a dangerous game. Please know when to step back and give yourself some space before considering a final decision out of impulse and cool off.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions and email your professors or advisors for help! Hopefully as a mentor I can be of assistance too but there are many resources here at UNM for you to utilize such as CAPS tutoring that you should take advantage of even if you don't feel like you're struggling.
  • I want to advise the incoming STEM students that it is OKAY to ask for help because I quickly learned I could not do engineering on my own and needed to form study groups and go to my professors for help in order to succeed. I also want to advise them to get involved in extra curricular and to find an internship because I know how important this was for me.
  • Go to class, make connections, and take care of yourself; both physically and mentally because it will get hard but you can make it through if you are willing to put in the work.
  • Nothing is impossible, follow your passion and if in time you find that your passion has changed, follow whatever new passion that fits your future goals and do it to the best of your ability. Never do anything halfway, always give it a 100% effort.
  • Forming study groups at the beginning of your time at UNM can make school a lot more fun. Staying organized and on top of your assignments is key to being successful in engineering or computer science, and friends/study groups can help a lot with this. Joining clubs or doing volunteer work or even going to CAPS tutoring can help with forming study groups and making friends within your degree.
  • Don't compare yourself to others! It's so easy to think that only "geniuses" can do it and feel inferior to your peers. That's not true and no matter what level you are or where you start out, you can still accomplish you goals.
  • Don’t let the magnitude of what you need to do discourage you from where you want to be in life.
  • Embrace the new responsibilities you have to deal with and don't be afraid to fail. Failures are the stepping stones to success.
  • It's okay to fail. This isn't high school and what is most important is gaining knowledge in engineering so you can apply it to your job in the future or whatever you want to do. Engineering is about learning not about perfect GPA and employers look for hard workers not 4.0's.
  • Go to class and do your homework. You can't pass a difficult class without doing that. I think it may be equally important to talk to people and make connections. It's a small world, and you never know who's going to be able to get you a job opportunity.
  • To be yourself, to go easy on yourself, connect with peers, connect with professors, become involved in campus life, and if there are any questions then to always reach out.
  • There is no "set way" to get your degree - everyone's situation is different and unique and if you really know what you want, then there is no limit on how you can get there.
  • Take every opportunity you get, but also be realistic with other people and yourself with how much you can handle. Making connections and gaining experiences is the crux of college. Opportunities come from connections. However, it is okay to say “no” to opportunities that do not represent your future goals. Manage your time, but do not let fear keep you from new experiences.
  • Fortune favors the bold.
  • Do what you enjoy and are passionate about. We spend too much of our lives at work to do something that we do not enjoy. Too many CS students don't really enjoy what they do and they are miserable in this degree and in their careers. So if you do not enjoy it, do not do it. But, if you enjoy it as I do, then it is amazing. The fields are very wide and so explore and find what niche you enjoy the most. Don't be afraid to try new things or internships, because as you try more things, you figure out what you enjoy best, and when you find what you enjoy and you start to do that, work no longer feels like a job, but feels like someone is paying you to play. And that makes life a lot more enjoyable and fulfilling.
  • Find people who enjoy what you enjoy and try and build a good support system. Engineering and Computer Science can be very tough majors and having people to keep you strong through it all is very important.
  • The programming world is a convoluted place that can demoralize even the best of us. But if you can find your niche, whether it be something that you think is cool, or that you're very good at, having that anchor point and a sense of "that's what I want to do" is the easiest way to pave your career here at UNM.
  • The most important piece of advice I would share to incoming students is to put yourself in situations that are daunting to think about. Go talk to your teacher about their research and follow up with an email. Ask questions about work you don't understand. Start your homework right away even if its only for a few minutes and a big task. I hope that students understand that it's ok to be different. Not only is it ok but it is valuable to the whole industry. Different people create different ideas which is absolutely what the CS world needs. 
  • With computer science and engineering it can be frustrating sometimes for a number of reasons, I would say just do not give up and failing sometimes is okay as long as you keep trying.
  • The most important piece of advice I want to share with incoming Engineering and Computer Science students is that it is okay to struggle while learning and taking classes because a lot of times the material that we are learning is new and can be difficult. So I would let them know it is okay to be frustrated and not understand the first time, but just to keep working at it because overtime the new material will make more sense. Also that there are a lot of resources on campus.
  • Always give effort to have good relation with professors and visit them in their office hours.
  • I believe that time management and effective studying is crucial in all STEM disciplines. In particular Engineering and Computer Science are daunting due to their immense workload, however effective time management has helped me balance my academics and my personal hobbies.
  • The most important advice that I would offer is that there is no time to waste and that you should get started in the projects that your most interested now as the world is changing fast and its very easy to get left behind and no one else is going to help you but yourself.
  • Don't be afraid to ask why. The most important questions are often left in silence.
  • Be involved with as many organizations as you can manage with your schedule. This would include organizations outside of engineering.it helps school be more exciting.
  • The most important piece of advice I want to share with incoming Engineering students is to say “yes” to opportunities. I stated this similar advice when I was a panelist at the CAELD orientation last Fall. While it is powerful to also know when to say no, the campus community is so large it is hard to know what you like and what will benefit you in the future. If an advisor suggests you should reach out to someone, follow up and reach out. If you want to make more major specific friends, join a student organization in your department or college. It is much easier to decide what is helpful for you after you have already participated in something so you can make your own decision based off of your unique personal experiences.
  • Stick with engineering, you belong here even if sometimes you feel like you don’t. If classes get difficult or unenjoyable don’t give up, because the brain is a muscle that grows through being challenged, and you will find something you enjoy eventually. Engineering is so varied that even within each degree there are career possibilities you’ve never thought of before, and there is something for you.
  • Go to office hours as frequently as possible because you will always have questions. Also, study like you have a test tomorrow. Finally, download circuit simulation software.
  • Really sit down and decide if this major is what you would really like to do. Look into the types of jobs and fields that your specific major usually attracts, and see if that is something that appeals to you. And if you do decide that engineering is right for you, I would say that the key to success would be to always use the abundant amount of resources around you, be it your classmates, your professors/TA's, the tutoring services, and many more.
  • Acknowledge that things may seem overwhelming to grasp but asking questions, attending class, and seeking help as soon as possible will help greatly in the long run.
  • Engineering is not an easy major, but with hard work, you can make it a lot easier and much more enjoyable.
  • Fess up to your failures. Try not to place blame on your professor, the tests/homework, or other outside influences.  Take ownership of your grades.  This will allow you to catch your flaws early on and better yourself as a student.  Becoming an engineer does not equate becoming perfect.  It means becoming a problem solver. 
  • The single most important piece of advice I would like to share with incoming students is to focus their studying on understanding the material, not just passing the class. Most of the STEM classes build on topics from prior classes and assume that the student understood everything in that class. I would say that this advice applies within any given class as well. Taking your time to review your mistakes and correct them will allow you to truly learn and move forward.
  • Be calm and try to enjoy every lecture. Engineering is beautiful.
  • Don't take 18 credit hours during your first semester (I made that mistake). But actually, I would say to have a system for how you do things. Life is full of so much chaos that it's important to have something in place to organize it all. For example, if you think of something that needs to get done, what do you do? Most likely you'll forget it if you don't write it down somewhere, so where do you write it down? A planner, your calendar, a todo app? Once it's written down how are you going to go about figuring out which tasks you should work on and when? I feel that if you don't have a way to deal with all the information thrown at you it will lead to you just feeling overwhelmed and eventually burning out.
  • Take things slow and don’t overwhelm yourself, college is a lot different from high school and is something that can be extremely enjoyable when you actually let yourself enjoy it. Don’t stress if you realize what you wanted to do isn’t really what you want, it’s okay to change your major and find what you really love to do, the most important thing is that you’re having fun in your chosen field and it’s something that you truly enjoy doing.
  • Do not be afraid to fail, you’re here to learn and you sometimes need to fail to learn. Some people here already know what you want to learn, that doesn’t make you any less of an engineer or any less capable of success. Surround yourself with people who encourage you and make you feel comfortable, not just people you sit next to in class.
  • Confidence is a learned trait that can be attained through practicing what scares you most. I am not sure if this is something that most engineering and computer science students struggle with, but it is something that played a major role in my Freshman year. I still live with the idea that I may not fit the "mold" or have the "mindset" of an aspiring engineer. What I have learned is that you can totally prove your fears wrong with the right persistence.
  • Follow your routine. Never put anything before your class and lectures.
  • Going to the office hours of professors.
  • There is plenty helped offered on campus, as well as in other areas, if help is needed.
  • It's okay to feel like you don't understand what's being taught.
  • To the best of your ability, have a plan for your academic path and try to set personal deadlines for yourself. Where should you be next year? in two years? and so on. If you fail to plan your are planning to fail