Birmingham Undergraduate Internship Programme: The Canvas Crusades

I’ve never had an office job before. That’s one of the main reasons I was excited about starting out as an iVLE Canvas Project Intern, over at the College of Life and Environmental Sciences. However, I woke up promptly at 7am on my first day of work with absolutely no idea what one should wear for such a role. Tie or no tie? Do I bother with a jacket? In the end I decided to play it smart/casual, but safe: smart shirt and boring chinos, it was my first day after all.

Before I started I wasn’t entirely sure what I would be doing in my day to day duties. I knew I would be taking charge of a project to overhaul some part of the College’s Canvas pages, but not a lot else. My welcome meeting at 9:30am soon cleared things up for me. I was shown my office, which I share with fellow intern Rebecca, and we were put to work organising course handbooks for the School of Psychology.Duncan

Our office is nice and light, with plenty of space for filing and paperwork. It’s nice to have another person in the room to bounce ideas off of and ask for advice. Plus it really helps with my productivity to be in a friendly atmosphere.

My job is to streamline the course handbooks, collating the generic information and standardising their formats, and put the content onto Canvas in an engaging and good looking form. With some careful planning and a small amount of HTML wizardry it is a satisfying experience. Occasionally it is a real battle of me vs. the code, but I always come out on top. Also, it’s nice to have a clear objective to work towards. I enjoy the process of ticking off tasks from my to-do list, and seeing myself step closer to the finish line.

The tasks I have are all relatively straight forward, and the IT side of my job is challenging at times, but nothing more than I can handle. More than anything, it’s the wide variety of tasks I have to fit into my day that causes a bit of bother. My desk is forever filled with post-it notes with reminders about emails and meetings and that large looming deadline. A well laid out Microsoft Outlook Diary is the only way to survive the working week. Also, I remember sitting at my keyboard the first time I needed to reply to a work email, and having absolutely no clue where to start. Education can only take you so far. You can have all the IT skills in the world, but unless you immerse yourself in an office environment you won’t gain those important transferrable skills that will help you fit in with any job in the future.

This role is a big step up from any of my employment in the past. That was my real motive for applying. I wanted to prove to myself (and potential employers in the future!) that I had what it takes to manage a project and deliver a great outcome. The experience gained in opportunities like this will be invaluable, so I remind myself every day to make the most out of this internship as an in investment in my future. I can already tell how much I’ve progressed from day one, and I can only grow from here. So, if you’re reading this because you’re considering applying for a role, I promise that it will be a fantastic experience that can only benefit you in the future.

Duncan Temple

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About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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