Coming to UNH for the first time, I had no idea what to expect. Not only was I unfamiliar with the academic structure, but I wasn’t aware of the amazing opportunities at my disposal. Then, I was exposed to a myriad of different clubs and activities within my freshman Peer Advising course. Additionally, my peer advisor, Sean Stewart, provided me with the academic guidance and support I needed to excel during my first year at UNH. Sean embodied the “model” student and set a great example for all of the people within his class. After learning under Sean’s guidance, I knew that I wanted to help other Wildcats, as Sean had done for me. I aspired to have a positive impact on the people that surrounded me. I wanted to be a mentor and help students, while developing my own portfolio of skills. Ultimately, I wanted to be a peer advisor.
Two years later, I got my chance. As a newcomer, I was not quite sure how to manage a class of my own, but I was forced to learn quickly. Wildcat Day, when peer advisors meet their students for the first time, immediately indicated the personal skills I needed to improve upon. I was able to comfortably speak with students, but it was difficult getting them to participate in open dialogue. Following Wildcat Day, I was eager to improve the dynamic of my class environment. By participating in weekly meetings with other advisors, I learned a plethora of tips and tricks to enhance engagement within my class. Additionally, all of the peer advisors had the opportunity to bond and work on team-building skills at the Browne Center. At the Browne Center, we participated in a variety of mini-games and activities that forced us to work as a team. I quickly learned more about the peer advisors that worked alongside me, and I had fun while doing it! Also, I learned more effective communication styles that could be used to strengthen relationships with my advisees.
Following the Browne Center, I felt more prepared to be a mentor. As the weeks went on, I developed professional relationships with the students in my class. Communication improved, and students felt more comfortable asking important questions. This led to meaningful conversations pertaining to: landing internships, resume development, studying for finals, etc. As a result of the improved communication within class, students felt more comfortable getting out of their comfort zones. Many of them joined clubs that I had previously been involved with, while others told me about their participation in new student organizations here at UNH. By the end of the semester, I was constantly answering text messages and emails from my advisees. It was very rewarding. Not only did they see me as a useful resource, but I was able to watch them grow exponentially during their time with me.
Due to this rewarding and educational experience, I accepted an offer to be the “Head Peer Advisor” for the new and improved FIRE program. Not only have I been responsible for managing a new class of 22 students, but I have more administrative duties, such as overseeing the other 30 advisors. Additionally, this role has provided me with more development opportunities. I was able to present information regarding FIRE to the Alumni Foundation Board. I strengthened my public speaking skills by delivering a speech on internship experiences to approximately 1,000 students during Accepted Students Visit Day (ASVD). I have strengthened my project management skills by overseeing my team’s Undergraduate Research Project. And lastly, I have become a more effective teacher through the additional hours spent in front of a class. It has been a fantastic experience so far, and I am excited to see how all of the teams perform at the Undergraduate Research Conference.
To conclude, my experience as a peer advisor has been very rewarding. Not only have I facilitated student growth and development, but I have learned and fine-tuned many skills of my own. Additionally, I have expanded my network to include a variety of interesting alumni, teachers, students, and advisors who have provided me with valuable insights and lessons. Lastly, being a peer advisor has been very enjoyable! Whether it be joking around with the advisors in the office or participating in team events, I have had a great time. Paul College has some tremendous people, and meeting them has been both eye-opening and fun. Without the experiences obtained as a peer advisor, I would not be the person I am today.
About Brian Finney:
Brian Finney is a driven senior at the University of New Hampshire, where he studies Business Administration with a dual concentration in Accounting and Finance. Finney is also very involved on campus. He is currently the head peer advisor for FIRE, a teaching assistant for financial accounting, a member of Alpha Kappa Psi, and an active participant in the UNH Pathway’s Program. Finney is also a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, Golden Key International Honour Society, the Accounting Students Association, and will be one of the Class Marshals for his graduating class.
Professionally, Finney has multiple internship experiences at firms such as Multiplan, Inc. and Ernst & Young, LLP. Following graduation, he will be working in Ernst & Young’s Advisory Practice in Boston, Massachusetts. Additionally, Finney aspires to become a Certified Public Accountant. His favorite leisure activities include: participating in various sports, going to the gym, and playing poker. He looks forward to the future and is thankful for everything he has learned at the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics.