University life for a student often represents stability as well as sense of purpose, which is to finish with a degree in whichever course chosen. 3 years of lectures, seminars and all round university activity often shields students from the rigours and competitiveness of the outside world, which makes the period post-graduation one of the most challenging and nerve-wracking periods. Upon completing my degree, I immediately felt a wave of anxiety about what to do next and whether or not I would be ready to be in a professional working environment. The ‘Accelerate Your Career’ programme has served to be an invaluable experience in more ways than one.
I was placed in the department of Archives and Special Collections, located in the basement of the library under the supervision of Vicky Holmes. The Archives and Special Collections department was previously unknown to me, which made my experience even more interesting. The first week of my placement was focused on introducing me to the day to day tasks that the department carries out. One of the most important tasks relating to this department was making sure that documents stored by the university are readily identifiable and available for use. Researching in documents in the archives led me to some important discoveries about the University that I previously was not aware of, such as the fact that the Fielding Johnson Building was the site of the Leicestershire & Rutland Counties Asylum in the early 19th century. I attended to requests from people who wished to use the extensive archive records for their own personal usage, which involved unearthing the relevant data and sending it over to them. A notable example of this occurred when I was asked to provide the consular lists for Belgian diplomatic officials in Turkey from 1974-1981. I was also given tasks relevant to my degree course, in which I was asked to research and fill in a Departmental Histories template for the Department of Politics, which once again enabled me to carry out independent research in various sources.
I carried out further tasks with the University’s Records Manager, David Jenkins, which involved a very hands-on approach to the collection and storage of records within the School of Education. I designed and published a survey titled ‘Data Protection Compliance Monitoring Spot Check’ using the one trust application. This task provided useful experience in data protection management as well as how to use the one trust application, which I could potentially utilize in future endeavours.
The last three weeks have been a constant learning experience, particularly on topics and concepts that I had no previous knowledge on. The ‘Learn More About’ sessions, carried out by various departments within the library, were extremely useful in educating me on how elements within the departments functioned as well as interesting analytical tools such as Altmetrics. The ‘Accelerate Your Career’ programme has been a wonderful experience, aided by the extremely friendly and hospitable staff within the department of Archives and special collections. I would highly recommend this programme to final year students as it provides skills and knowledge that you never thought you needed.
Tobi St Matthew Daniel.