August 25, 2021, by Susan Lim
My experience as a student helper
My position as a student helper began in November of 2020. As I had some free time on my hands, I thought it would be best for me to gain some work experience and get paid at the same time. So on a whim, I responded to the Careers Office’s email on the opening for a student helper to assist in the University’s communications and alumni relations functions. All I was required to do was to send in a copy of my resume along with samples of my writing.
Much to my pleasure I was called up for a virtual interview that took place over Microsoft teams. Some of the questions that I was asked during the interview were about my experiences in article writings, the clubs and societies that I was involved in, if I had any experiences in handling and managing events and my ability to connect and write stories from various schools and activities around campus. The next day, I received a call informing me that I had been hired.
Working as a student helper
I started work on 9 November and I soon found myself putting together the Campus Communications newsletter, editing various articles and documents, writing my own articles for the newsletter, creating social media posts which included creating graphics and writing captions, writing out the career journeys of our alumni and, last but not least, photo editing. All this was done under guidance of my new colleagues.
In my early stage of being a student helper, I was residing at on-campus accommodation and had the chance to get to know and meet my supervisors, Sharina Baharuddin (Sha), the Alumni Relations Officer and Josephine Dionisappu (Jo), the PR and Communications Manager. This meeting was also possible as the lockdowns were temporarily lifted and in person meetings were possible.
Gaining invaluable experience
What I gained from handling these responsibilities and tasks was a lot of experience in the corporate world. I have also experienced working under tight deadlines and working closely within our small team, supporting each other as and when required. I also gained a few new skills such as graphic design and public relations and communications management that I can confidently pen down in my CV.
I also got to know many different people across the university rapidly from members of staff, students from all levels and subject areas and even alumni of the university. This is definitely a rare experience for any student helper.
As many of my assignments were tasks I had never previously done before, such as putting together a newsletter, I learned the ropes of these valuable skills from my colleagues. I have also gained numerous insights from Jo who has completed her masters degree. In addition, I was exposed to journalistic writing, which was very different to the creative writing lessons which I had attended as part of my undergraduate studies.
I have now decided to move to the thesis-writing phase of my degree as a full-time student and have stepped down from my role as student helper. As a student, this experience has been invaluable for me and although the career I am working towards lies in a different field, I am confident the experience I have gained here will help me immensely.
Fathima Shamra Mohamed Rifai
Postgraduate Diploma Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages