Work Experience Case Study: Heather

Personal details
Degree:MA(Hons) Mediaeval History and Classical Studies .
School(s): School of Classics, School of History
Year of Graduation:Jun-2015
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: University of St Andrews Library
Job title: Cataloguing Department Intern
Occupational Sector: Librarian/Information Management
How did you find out about the opportunity ?
I found out about the internship through the University's advertising of the positions in the weekly emails, and found out more on the Careers Centre website.
How did you apply ?
I applied by bringing my CVs and covering letters to the Careers Centre, as requested. I applied for the three internships from the list which interested me most, hoping that I would be successful in one of them.
How were you selected ?
Following my application, I received an email notifying me that I had gained an interview for one of the positions. I was very excited, and before my internship I made sure to research both the library itself, and the specific work which had been mentioned in the brief, which I re-read many times before the interview.
Why were you successful?
I think my preparation for the interview really helped, as I was able to demonstrate a good knowledge of the subject area. I also tried to be friendly and personal, using anecdotes from my life to try and stand out. Even though I didn't have any experience in the field, I think my enthusiasm carried me through.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
I didn't really have a cause to apply any specific knowledge gained from my degree, so for me the experience was largely about that arts-student buzzword - 'transferable skills'. I used IT skills, lots of copy-editing, independent research etc.
What have you been doing?
I worked from 9-5 for 6 weeks in the cataloguing department, on a variety of tasks. My main task was to process theses into the library system, entering their details into a database to make them searchable. I also dealt with issues regarding copyrights and author ownership, undertook a digitisation project, and visited lots of different departments in the University Library, to learn about how such a large organisation runs. The variety of tasks made it a really varied experience, but the staff were so nice in letting me see what they do, and helping me out if I needed it.
What are the main things you have gained from this experience?
One of the things that stands out is the experience of working from 9 until 5 each day on a typical working schedule. As I have been a student for a while, I had almost forgotten what a full day felt like, and getting into that mindset again was a little odd at first. What it highlighted for me most was the variety of different roles in these large organisations, some of which you wouldn't be able to think of by yourself, and therefore it showed the importance of researching really thoroughly your chosen work area, and if possible getting some experience. This might bring a role to your attention that you never knew about, but is perfect for you!