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Joining BEAM is the perfect way to share your love for science and engineering with the local community!

Spring 2020 applications are now closed but feel free to add your email below or follow us on Facebook to receive information about our Fall 2020 infosession/application.

Mentor Experiences

What would you consider to be hallmarks of a good mentor? How have you demonstrated those traits in your own mentoring?

One hallmark of a good mentor is being able to ask questions that spur students to realize the answer rather than feeding them facts. I would say I’m pretty good at that since a lot of the time my understanding is not perfect, so it’s not always the easiest thing to explain without being confusing (especially bio and chem modules). Instead, I ask them questions like “what do you think would happen if I do this” or “how do you think this is affected by that” or “can someone give me an example of this”. Then, if I want to make sure that everyone agrees, I’ll ask “who agrees with what he/she said.” If someone disagrees, then I’ll have them explain their logic, and that way I can understand the thought process of the mentees better. I’m then better equipped to give an example or another question to get everyone on the right page, and then I can generalize whatever concept we’ve “discovered” to the teaching goal in the module.

Ishan Gurnani, 3 semesters in BEAM

As a new mentor in BEAM, what did you expect and what did you not expect?

I found out about BEAM through Reddit, so coming in, I didn’t know what to expect. Berkeley was, and still is, very new to me, which has made BEAM very influential in my growing idea of what it's really like to be a Cal student. I like working with kids, and hope to go into teaching at some point in my career, so the opportunity to work in a classroom for an hour a day has been invaluable. What I definitely did not expect was the sense of community within BEAM—I had no idea that a decal could be a family, but I can’t think of any other way to describe you all. It’s really refreshing refreshing to be around people so dedicated and passionate about something so honorable and good every week. Everyone takes their job seriously, and I have a lot of respect for that.

Sara Tetsu, 1 semester in BEAM

What is one takeaway you have from this semester in BEAM?

One thing that I was surprised by this semester is how much I can learn from new mentors. Similar to mentees, its incredible how much you can learn from someone you initially expect to be teaching or guiding. All the mentors in my site have unique strengths when they teach and its very valuable to observe them and be able to incorporate those aspects in my teaching as well. I’ve learned through this semester that being a good teacher is actually a constant learning process. There are always things I can improve upon and a variety of ways I can convey a concept. It helps to be with a new site each semester because everyone brings something unique to the table and has their own strength that I can learn from and be inspired by.

Avani Kelekar, 7 semesters in BEAM

What is one takeaway you have from this semester in BEAM?

The biggest takeaway that I have from this semester in BEAM is that I should definitely be more patient with my failures and strive more for improvement rather than success the first time. When I see the mentees in my class, I see a lot of who I used to be. Many times in elementary and high school, when I encountered concepts that I found to be too hard or too boring, I would lose interest in them, procrastinating assignments or even refusing to do them. Now that I am in college, I have realized that more and more concepts will be difficult and unfamiliar to me; however, repeating what I have done in the past when confronted with a challenge is a recipe for failure. Going to site every week and watching students deal with concepts they have never learned before, such as mechanics and computer science, has made me understand that failing the first time I do something is an opportunity to learn something new instead of a roadblock. It has also taught me patience—both in terms of patience with myself when learning new things, but also being patient with students who are struggling with the material.

Kyle Kishimoto, 1 semester in BEAM

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the weekly time commitment?

We have mandatory DeCal (worth 1 or 2 units) on Monday evenings from 6:30-8pm, where we primarily go over the lesson for the week. You will then attend site for 1 hour (not including transportation time) on one afternoon between Tuesday and Friday every week! You are at the same site for the whole semester. Our Outreach committee also plans out volunteer events and socials that you can attend on weekends!

What if I have no teaching experience?

Don’t worry at all! Our Mentor Development committee prepares a Mentor Orientation every semester to prepare you for teaching and situations in the classroom, as well as presentations and activities throughout the semester to help facilitate your growth as a mentor. Additionally, you attend site in a group of 4-6 mentors, including 1 experienced site leader so there’s people that have your back!

How can I get to site if I don't have a car?

Transportation is entirely covered by BEAM! Some schools are within walking distance and transportation will be provided for those that require driving.

Do I have to be a STEM major to be a mentor?

Absolutely not! We have very comprehensive lesson plans that you will read every week and that we go over during decal on Mondays to prepare you for site.