My Graduate Trainee Experience: Six Weeks In

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Six weeks of working in a library and now this is pretty much exactly what my bedroom floor looks like… Image: FreeImages.com/ms

First of all – I genuinely can’t believe I’ve been gainfully employed for six weeks now! How time flies…

More importantly, of course, I am absolutely loving my job (which is probably a big part of the reason why the time is passing so quickly). It seemed natural to have a summary at six weeks in, as I have now had three weeks of induction and training and three weeks of actually doing the job myself, so I’d like to think that I am beginning to get the hang of at least most of it. (Plus – if I’m being honest – this is the first weekend since I started where I haven’t been either a) ill or b) busy, so that plays a pretty big role in the timing too.)

As with any job (or any experience at all, really), there have been bits I’ve enjoyed, bits that I didn’t, and bits I would much rather pretend never happened. Here are three of my less fond memories:

  1. First day at work: I arrived with my shoes, socks and trousers covered in blood, because my shoes had cut both my heels open. I had to be paraded through the workroom in search of the first aid box, which made me want the ground to open up and swallow me whole. I honestly don’t think I will ever live this memory down.
  2. Fifth day at work: whilst trying to do some stock work on the first floor, I got the DVD unlocker (essentially a plastic box with huge magnets inside) stuck to the metal bits on my lanyard. In trying to wrench them apart, the DVD unlocker fell dramatically to the floor and smashed, rendering it unusable. This was so, so hideously embarrassing, but fortunately my angelic colleague explained what had happened to my supervisor so that I didn’t have to.
  3. Some point in the last two weeks: I tipped an entire trolley of books onto my own feet immediately outside the workroom doors in view of my colleagues on the help desk… Oh, the shame.

There have been more than enough good memories to counter the bad ones, however:

  1. Learning new skills: I can now program RFID tags (a good explanation of how RFID tags work can be found here), navigate my way around a library management system, show a student how to install a remote desktop application, and so much more. I feel like I am still learning something new every day, which is amazing because it keeps me motivated and enthusiastic about my work.
  2. Conquering my fear of answering the phone: it sounds kind of silly, but I HATE phone calls and I was absolutely dreading having to be on phone support. It is no exaggeration that when I first started waitressing, I refused to answer the phone for the first nine months of the job. However, it really hasn’t been as bad as I thought! There will always be a few who aren’t the most pleasant to deal with, but so many students are so kind and grateful when you can help them to change a password or download an article. It always gives me the warm fuzzies when I succeed in helping someone to overcome a problem. (I remain less enthusiastic about answering messages via our Chat service, but who knows, I might learn to love it in time!)
  3. Getting to know my colleagues: I work with such an amazing group of people. I rarely feel embarrassed to ask a question because they’re all so helpful and supportive. We have such a laugh together and I feel really grateful that they accepted me so quickly and so generously. From the work-related shenanigans (#ARUShelfie, Great Library Bake Off) to our out-of-hours exploits, there’s almost never a time when I don’t have a smile on my face.
  4. Becoming more certain about my career goals: because I live such a long way from Cambridge, I end up being out the house for about 13 hours a day. This does mean I am tired literally all the time, which in turn can occasionally make me a little whiny/cranky, but I honestly wouldn’t swap my job for the world. Knowing that my days are so long and tiring but that I’m still so excited and enthusiastic about what I do has made me even more certain that I want to work in the library and information science field. I definitely feel that my traineeship is fuelling my determination to pursue my Masters degree. Look out Sheffield, I’m coming for you in 2017!

I am really looking forward to the rest of the semester and seeing what else it brings – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Also, on Tuesday I’m off to meet the Graduate Trainees from the University of Cambridge – it’ll be both the first time I meet them and the first time I visit the main University Library. I’m a little nervous, but excited too; I hope it all goes well. I’m planning to write a post all about the visit, so please stay tuned for that!

Until next time,

Kathi

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