Spencer Bartholomew tells us about his role as night manager within Student Accommodation and the huge array of tasks involved with keeping around 2000 students safe and happy, as well as the joys of getting home just as everyone else is heading to work.
What’s your role?
I work as a night manager within Student Accommodation.
There are three night managers including me working a 12 hour shift pattern. My role is very diverse with no two shifts being the same.
I work predominately from the Headspace building on the Hillhead Student Village site.
While on shift I’m responsible for all University student accommodation including Hillhead student village, Crombie, Kings and Elphinstone Road totalling at present 1785 residents. In addition we provide support to 700 students living within the partner sites all located close to Old Aberdeen.
To explain in a little more depth, and break the role down - I look after the team of portering staff that work at both Hillhead and Crombie sites; organising their shifts, training requirements and annual leave in addition to the normal daily (or in my case nightly) managers role. I also provide support to the welfare team of SRAs that are based in the residences. I am also on hand to assist and support the catering side of student life when functions are running through early/late evenings. We will also deal with any emergencies/issues that can occur during the night at any of our sites; everything from fire alarm activations, power outages, blocked drains, lost keys to flat disputes and missing students. As you can imagine the list can be (and is!) endless with over 2000 young people living on the sites and can also involve liaising with the emergency services. The other aspect of the role is about enhancing and creating a positive student experience while living in University accommodation
How do you start your day?
Probably in reverse to the majority of colleagues, after the drive home I get dragged around the streets by our two spaniels unless my wife has had chance to walk them first then I'm off to bed.
My shift starts at 7pm where the day supervisor will do a handover of the day’s events and any issues to be followed up by myself or the night team. I’ll have a read of the day sheet to see if there are any deliveries or new arrivals and then check my emails.
What brought you to the University?
We moved up from Sheffield in 2009 where I used to work at the university as a porter before moving across to security. As my wife had family in Montrose and we had often talked about moving up north, we decided not to go down the road of “I wonder what if” in years to come and so made the decision to move up. I was successful in joining a well-established portering team here at the University in 2010 and was made to feel so welcome. I’ve also been fortunate since then to have the opportunity to advance my career within this team.
Favourite thing about the job?
Firstly, it’s the interaction between the students and myself due to the diverse student community that we have staying with us. You could be speaking to a student from literally anywhere in the world, while the next student that you speak to possibly lives just down the road. Also it’s so good to see how well the student residents all get on together and the barriers that can curtail this in the wider world aren’t as noticeable here at the University.
Secondly, it’s at the end of the year when parents find time to thank the team for looking after their son/daughter over the term and to tell us how much they have enjoyed their stay in halls. That makes it all worthwhile.
Work priorities at the moment?
My job is operational and at this time of year we start planning for the first phase of undergrads leaving in June. In turn, summer vacation students, summer school and access students will all be arriving to stay with us.
A massive programme of recycling, maintenance and cleaning is undertaken throughout the sites in preparation for the summer guests and the new intake in September. Flat inventories are undertaken, then painting, cleaning, replacement of items and repairs are carried out - no easy feat with over 2000 bedrooms throughout the sites!
How do you like to relax?
We both enjoy the outdoors so getting out for walks in the hills together with the dogs when the opportunity arises. In the warmer times, getting away in our caravan and just unwinding with a few glasses of wine and watching the world go by.