By Sam Cannon.
As a student, my relationship with the LiFTS department was always short and sweet: I’d come in to submit or collect essays, have some friendly chat with the administrative staff as I did so, and then happily trundle off back home again. So when I found out that I’d been accepted for an internship within the department, I wondered what things were going to look like from the other side of the desk, or behind the scenes.
Some things never change, however – a 9am start is still a 9am start, a cup of coffee from the kitchen is still enough to draw me out of bed on dark mornings, and autumn term was still full of fresh-faced first years roaming around campus, taking all of it in. And it’s been my job to make sure that all of the changes are relatively easy to adapt to, things like making sure students know where to find support if they should need it, making sure they know where their classes are, or even organising events such as book fairs or social events.
There are, of course, other things that have filled my days – things like attendance reports, creating class lists and other general administrative tasks. But I’ve been lucky enough to work in the general office with Deanna and Antonio (the two Student and Academic Services Administrators), and they’ve been invaluable when it comes to helping me with a lot of administrative things that I’ve never done before (I guess it’s not only the students that need a hand adjusting to new things!).
Because it turns out that there’s actually quite a lot that goes in to running an academic department. Like, a lot. Whether it’s deadlines, submissions, timetable clashes, attendance reports, class lists or even photo-copying, there’s always something (by which I mean everything) to be done. There’s a lot to learn, but luckily we can all run down the corridor to Rachele (the Deputy Departmental Manager) if there’s something we don’t know. It keeps everyone pretty busy, but somehow there’s always time for students, whether it’s a friendly chat, answering any queries that they may have, or sometimes even guiding the lost ones to their classrooms!
And there’s a lot in the pipeline as well. At the moment, I’ve been working very closely with James Jefferies (who will be taking over from me at the end of January), and he is looking forward to continuing to provide LiFTS students with the support that they need. He’ll be making sure that all of our third years are ready for the NSS (which is live now, by the way), as well as showing potential students just how much that can be done at Essex.
On a personal level, after three and a half years on this crazy little campus, I am really going to miss life at Essex. There’s been some stressful deadlines, some truly intriguing classes and modules, probably too much coffee, some wonderful people and some in-erasable memories – and all of it has added up to an amazing experience which has amply prepared me for the foreseeable future. My one piece of advice if you’re still here, and still reading this: make a promise to yourself to make the most of it, and don’t let yourself down.