As a student manager of the writing center, I assist in leading training meetings. At the beginning of the year, I had to run a quick errand as the meeting started. By myself, I couldn’t stop thinking about standing before all my peers, especially without the support from the prior year’s managers. The concept of having forty-some eyes on me was so nerve-wracking that my hands shook. When I joined the other managers at the front of the room, speaking clearly and confidently, I calmed down, proving to myself that I was capable.
Peer tutoring fosters growth, and not just for those being tutored.
I’ve been friendly but shy my whole life, making few friends and keeping my head down. I came into the writing center as that person, quiet and insecure. Part of the writing center training was how to interact with the client, how to ask questions instead of answering, minimalist versus directive consulting, the delicate ratio of listening and speaking. However, the real training was the on-the-job experience. I learned quickly that part of my role as a consultant was to be outgoing. I had to greet my client in an enthusiastic but approachable manner, providing a comforting first impression. In consultations, I learned to establish a safe environment for my clients, allowing them to relax and share their work. The writing center theory was valuable, yet it was the experience of being shy with shy clients that made me a consultant. To draw them out of their shells, I couldn’t have my own.
Coming out of my shell was freeing. With the combination of training and experience, my self-doubt diminished. I went into every consultation with the surety that I could make a difference for the client. This surety made a difference for myself. I became so in love with the feeling of confidence, of self-accomplishment, as well as the friendly relationships I established with everyone around me. The writing center was a refuge in my tumultuous life. After a year and some change as a consultant, I applied to be a student manager. It’s been difficult at times, but as someone who also loves behind-the-scenes work, it’s been rewarding.
Consulting has given me so much in interpersonal skills. Knowing how to be an active listener as well as being approachable is a benefit in my personal life. I’ve also been able to manipulate body language- where to sit during consultations, how to open up and be engaged. I’ve also learned a lot about being in the moment. There’s only so much time in consultations, and many of my clients, I don’t see again. I have to make the most of my half-hour with them, working as hard as I can to help them.
I’ve gained so much confidence in myself from the writing center. I’m confident in my work here, so I can be confident in my work in other areas of my life.