Rohiitt Charles Razali, the newly-elected Taylor’s Law Society president, has rebooted the mentor- mentee programme. This article explores how the mentor-mentee programme came to be while also providing an insight on the impact the programme has had on the students of Taylor’s Law School.
How does it work?
“It is more or less like a buddy system.”
The mentor-mentee programme allows seniors and juniors in Taylor’s Law School to bond. It bridges the gap between seniors and juniors in law school.
Inevitably, there are always instances where juniors may suppress their emotions, concerns and depressing thoughts. They may be afraid of reaching out to lecturers or even peers around them. Especially the ‘freshies’ who enrolled in law school under the virtual setting, the newness and unfamiliarity of the law school may deter them from asking for help.
The reboot of the mentor-mentee programme is a stepping stone to resolve issues relating to the lack of support system in Taylor’s Law School. The purpose of the said programme is to help students who are struggling with their studies in Taylor’s Law School. Specifically, Rohiit highlighted the significance of the programme, where the implications of the pandemic were taken into account.
“Especially since it is all online classes, the juniors may not have the chance to get to know new friends, so they have no way to ask when they face any difficulties.”
The programme was rebooted to cater to students’ needs and it provides students with an easily accessible way to share their questions. Reaching out has always been difficult and it has been much more challenging especially since the pandemic strikes. Thus, by rebooting the programme, Rohiit and his team wholeheartedly hope that it will greatly benefit the law student community.
The selection of suitable mentors
Seniors who are from Semester 3 and above will be given the golden opportunity to become mentors, personally guiding the juniors one-to-one.
“Throughout the selection process, we will first look through their CGPA. Since the mentor is also a student, we don't want them to take on more than they can handle, which will affect their studies.”
Besides the academic aspect, Rohiit pointed out that his team places great priority on the qualities of the mentors. A good mentor should be engaging, helpful and willing to share their knowledge. Mentors should also be open-minded where they should be comfortable in sharing their personal experiences with the mentees.
Furthermore, Taylor’s Law Society has enforced the requirement of a biweekly meeting between mentors and mentees. Mentors who are incapable of holding meetings will be disqualified. This is to make sure that mentors have checked on the mentees for their recent well-being, mental health conditions or even their trivial concerns.
The effectiveness of the mentor-mentee programme
Noted on the question, Rohiit took us on a walk down the memory lane on the execution of the mentor-mentee programme in the past.
“The mentor-mentee programme in the past provided a great foundation for our programme.
Rohiit recognised that the programme was an impetus to the solid foundation of Taylor’s Law School that we see today. However, due to the failure of implementing constant checks in the past, its effectiveness remained a question.
Upon rebooting the programme, Taylor’s Law Society had introduced a new set of guidelines to make its operation more systematic. One of the new guidelines that was set out is: mentors should conduct constant checks on mentees by way of biweekly meetings and get monthly updates. This will thus be a more effective way to reach out to the mentees, as the mentors are able to pin down their mentees’ progress in navigating law school.
Rohiit further shared that one of the mentees had benefited greatly from the mentor’s tips in tackling tutorial questions. During the past few weeks, the mentee was able to answer the tutorial questions perfectly in accordance with the specific lecturer’s standard.
“It is for the mentors to share their experiences and the mentees to take these experiences to learn or improve from it.”
Are there any boundaries?
“The only boundary is that the mentors should not give the answers to their mentees on tutorials, assignments or even exams, and the mentees did nothing.”
In Rohiit’s humble opinion, the mentor-mentee relationship goes both ways: mentors and mentees should feel comfortable with each other’s presence. Most importantly, they should get along more like friends.
Rohiit further reiterated that the boundaries are basically non-existent. As long as the relationship is mutual, a clear boundary line would not be drawn up. There is just no rigid framework as to how the relationship should be developed or maintained.
However, Rohiit did point out that mentees shouldn’t expect ‘free lunches’ from their mentors. Mentors should only act as a lighthouse: providing guidance to gradually clear up the mist that blocks the mentees’ vision. Mentees on the other hand should be the ones that plant the seeds of effort while walking their paths.
Besides hearing from Taylor’s Law Society, Lexicon had also gathered the testimonies of two of the mentees ( Ching Yee and Hui Min) who recently partake in the programme.
“As a newbie in university, there are many unknown situations and circumstances which I have no idea how to cope with.”
Ching Yee, a law student from Semester 1 had expressed her concern with regard to the uncertainties she encountered while trying to adapt to the new transition. Especially under the virtual setting, she found it hard to reach out to her peers whom she barely knew.
Similarly, Hui Min who is a freshie in law school felt lost and disorientated from time to time. She felt a surge of unfamiliarity with the operation of law school as it felt drastically different from her A-level experience.
Navigating law school as newcomers inevitably would be challenging. Upon hearing of the mentor-mentee programme, both took a leap of faith to apply to partake as mentees.
(i) How was help provided?
Hui Min noted that her mentor never hesitated to provide guidance. Advice ranging from book recommendations, time-management skills and exam techniques were shared based on the mentor’s personal experience. On a personal note, Hui Min can relate to her mentor’s experience and she found the advice provided to be useful.. She had started incorporating these practical tips on a regular basis.
On the other hand, Ching Yee’s mentor had shared with her some internship tips to prepare her for future opportunities. Ching Yee had previously expressed her intention to do an internship the following year where she enquired about the necessary information from her mentor. Her mentor’s experience had provided her a great outlook of the prospects of the internship market. Upon being informed of the key hacks and tips, Ching Yee felt confident where she could visualize herself securing a promising internship offer in the following year.
(ii) The mentor-mentee relationship
The emergence of Coronavirus has limited potential physical interactions between mentors and mentees. As an attempt to get to know each other, meetings were held utilizing Zoom/Google Meet.
“My mentor and I had a virtual zoom call before, she is really friendly and approachable. I wouldn’t say we are very close right now, but I believe we will be getting closer and closer as time goes on.”
On that note, Hui Min expressed her utmost gratitude to her mentor. Although frequent virtual meet-ups were impossible (due to busy schedules), her mentor was always there; guiding her through thick and thin using chat messages.
While for Ching Yee, she and her mentor hit off at the very beginning where they bonded well. Eventually, friendship blooms as they take their mentor-mentee relationship to a next level: becoming friends.
“Unexpected friendships are the best ones” -excerpt from an internet source
Echoing Rohiit’s earlier words, the mentor-mentee bond will evolve over time once the awkwardness eases. Ching Yee had never once expected to find friendship in such events; she further expressed her appreciation for such an encounter and felt a sense of contentment with how things turned out to be.
Lexicon extends its gratitude to Taylor’s Law Society, Ching Yee and Hui Min for their generosity in offering valuable inputs. Hopefully, this article will help our avid readers understand how the programme came to be, its significance as well as its positive impacts.