A STEP Journey

Siobhan Ali
Monday 17 August 2020

By Grace Kennedy

Project : How do we ensure the library builds student community online?

The day before my final university deadline, I was scrolling on Facebook and procrastinating when I came across a Careers Centre post about the St Andrews Team Enterprise Programme. Intrigued, and desperate to do anything other than my assignment, I looked at the page but brushed off the idea of applying because I had to work. However, I couldn’t stop thinking about the post and how rare it was to see a programme designed to actually help you develop your own skills. I decided I would take a look at the page, and as soon as I saw an initiative focused on helping the library turn into a virtual study space, I was immediately drawn to it. The library had been such a big part of my final year so, I thought, ‘Why not apply?’

I started working on my application, deciding that my imminent deadline could wait. I quickly realised how excited and passionate I was about joining this programme – I really wanted to be part of such a unique opportunity. Luckily, I got both my application and my deadline in on time – a testament to the time management skills I wrote about in my application! A week later, I received a welcome email, and with imposter syndrome getting the better of me, I suddenly convinced myself I would not be good enough and had to reassure myself that the workshops would provide me with the necessary skills to not only succeed in the internship but also to help me develop valuable transferable skills for my future 

And that’s exactly what they did. The weekly workshops taught me the skills needed to face challenges from the project, whether it was realising the library had digital standards that we had to comply with, which meant changing our initial ideas, or the number of things we had to do in a limited amount of time. 

Working with the library has been an incredible opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes of a university building. It is quite easy to walk into the library and head to a study space, completely oblivious to the staff’s hard work which ensures its smooth running. My, I am ashamed to say, previous cluelessness about their hard work quickly changed when I first spoke to our sponsors. They were clearly dedicated to their jobs and wanted to make sure that students were receiving the best service despite the library having to close in accordance with government social distancing guidelines. This meant they were working even harder to provide a reliable service online. 

That’s where our team came in. To help with the stress of all this, we researched ways organisations were adapting to Covid-19, created a survey to collect students’ opinions, made a focus group to get additional, in-depth opinions about our ideas and offered tips about how to improve the library’s social media to ensure that information was easily accessible. We also produced marketing materials and created some fun study tips, which I hope will appear on their social media platforms in the coming months. 

Overall, this was an incredibly rewarding opportunity. I have worked in a team effectively, enhancing my research skills and learning how to write a report, all of which will be incredibly helpful in the working world that, having just graduated, I am now entering. By the end of the project, I found it difficult to balance the workload with the easing of lockdown. But I really enjoyed learning more about my university and working with a team that I never would have had the chance to meet otherwise.

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