I had the honour of working on a 10-week project for the Directorate of Digital & Information Services this summer. The aim of the project was to review Aberdeen’s current research information system (CRIS) and repository by interviewing stakeholders working with different systems at other institutions. A CRIS is essentially a database for storing, exchanging and handling research metadata and a repository is where full-text manuscripts are stored. During my internship I contacted other higher education institutions around the UK and arranged meetings with library administrative staff at the institutions. I transcribed each interview recording and used NVivo to code sentences. I had four arguments: (i) staying with the CRIS and repository we are currently using, (ii) keeping the CRIS but changing the repository, (iii) changing both CRIS and repository, (iv) using only one system for everything. I coded sentences according to which argument the statement supported. I wrote up a report evaluating each argument, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative that the university has moving forward.
My objectives at the beginning of the internship were to enhance my communication skills with external stakeholders at various levels of seniority. As a student in what is for me a foreign country, I have mostly interacted with other students and have had limited interactions with individuals of various ages and representing various professions. Therefore, it was an absolute pleasure to be given the opportunity to meet (albeit online) professional stakeholders at other institutions. My first couple of interviews were a bit bumpy, as I was still very new to all the terminology and procedures that the administrative staff were using. However, with each interview, I gained confidence and understanding of the work that was being done within the field and, little by little, I was able to start seeing the bigger picture. I started noticing similarities in the workflows between institutions even when they were using different systems. As I have no experience of using either a CRIS or repository as a student, it took a while to get used to listening to professionals talking about these systems, some of whom had worked within the field for more than a decade. I am proud of myself for not letting my inexperience get in the way and confidently trying to get the most out of the interviews. I decided I should not be afraid of asking silly questions as it was evident that I was writing a report as an external person, not an expert. I achieved my objective, and now I am much more confident in my communication skills than I was before.
I loved working for the University. My line manager was exceptionally encouraging and patient, and I am very grateful for her support throughout the project. As a student, I have grown used to learning many different things simultaneously and having to apply what I have learnt right away. It was very refreshing to focus on only one topic and go more in-depth with it during the internship. It was much more enjoyable to write a report about a topic that I was so engaged in. I was also fascinated by the level of expertise possessed by the administrators I met; I admire their dedication greatly.
I am not yet sure what exactly I want to do in the future, but I aim for post-graduate study after I am done with my undergraduate degree. The Aberdeen Internship Programme has been extremely valuable in that it has enhanced my communication skills, independent working, and I have practiced report writing. This experience will not only be helpful for my thesis, but even more generally, it has given me valuable insight into the professional field of administration.