As much as being a Student Engagement Ambassador is about having fun and creating new and exciting ways for students to interact with our Library, it is also about developing professionally and learning more about yourself. Some of our Student Engagement Ambassador staff take a look back on this academic year to share what they’ve learned about the Library and themselves while serving in this position.
What skills do you think will be transferable into other academic and professional settings?
As an Ambassador I was able to plan events and work with other Ambassadors to do so. I think the skill that is most transferable is teamwork. Alongside other Ambassadors, it was key to be able to delegate tasks to one another in an equal matter. Successfully, we were able to accomplish planning and promoting events as well as help each other out through the process. Along with this, I learned a lot about the organization and planning of events and that it takes time and multiple steps to achieve the end goal. This skill can be transferred to any academic or professional event that I could potentially plan in the future. I had the ability to practice and master these skills through helping plan 6+ events throughout the entire year. Lastly, time management was something I learned that can be transferred to any life aspect. It's important to manage time within a job as well as with other things going on outside of work as to not get overwhelmed and gain maximum productivity.
What was the most challenging aspect of your work as an Ambassador?
The most challenging aspect of my work as an Ambassador was brainstorming and executing events at the Library that students would want to go to. Most students go to the Library solely to study, and do not value the space as a refuge or a place of creative outlet. Some of the events we created were not well attended – such as our zine event and our headshot event during fall semester. To create a good library event for the students, we must consider what they want most from the library and how to best advertise our events. From this job, I have learned that students value study break opportunities, especially if it is easily accessible and an opportunity to relax. Our most successful events were Therapaws button making and our hot chocolate bar and coloring event because students wanted a break from finals to enjoy time with the puppies and with their friends as the semester wrapped up. Our efforts to create different and appealing events at the Library helped me to gain a better grasp on marketing Library events to students at U-M.
What surprising and/or interesting things did you learn about the library this year?
I think learning about our many subject librarians was the most surprising discovery I made in the Library this year. Our Library can seem like an overwhelming place when you’re looking for resources for a project what with its millions and millions of volumes, but it can be made such a more manageable space by talking to a subject librarian. Last semester, I needed to conduct research on early twentieth-century Bangalore for a creative project, but in the research process, it seemed that there were at once too many and too few sources I could use for it. After being directed to Jeffrey Martin, the resident South Asia librarian, I was able to hone my research skills. He showed me how to effectively utilize Mirlyn to find exactly what I was looking for: and I did. I tell everyone about our subject librarians now-- they’re great people and more students should go visit them!
What is the greatest skill you’ve gained from working as an Ambassador?
I believe the greatest skill that I have taken away from my time with the Library Student Engagement Ambassadors Program is taking ownership of my own work. The structure of the Ambassadors program is incredibly flexible, allowing us to pursue our ideas through the avenues we believe will be most successful. Unlike our academic experiences, we are not provided a rubric or given an assignment, but instead encouraged to develop a program that we ourselves find valuable as students at the university. This agency has helped me to realize that the product I create is a direct reflection of the energies I invest in it. Through working as an engagement ambassador, I have learned to take pride in my work and make it my own.
What was your favorite component of the program?
My favorite component of this program was the openness and dedication to a specific goal - to increase student engagement in library programs. I think that students typically, and myself included, only think about the library as a place to study or do research, when in fact it is much broader and richer than that. Therefore, I truly valued that this program was formed to break down those barriers and provide students with programs that would shed a new light on the library, and I liked the openness and creativity that went along with it. We were really able to execute anything that we put our imaginations to, within reason, which created a really great work environment and sense of autonomy, meaning, and responsibility.
What was it like working with the Student Engagement Program this year?
Serving as the Library Student Engagement Program Assistant this year was a great way to hone some of the skills I had while also developing new ones. As a Master’s candidate—and eventual graduate—from the Higher Education program here on campus, this position was a perfect fit. I was able to develop more understanding about the role of student affairs as well as gain technical, program management, and supervisory skills. The Ambassadors were the light of my day each time they were in the office and I’m so proud of how they’ve each grown this semester. Programs like this are vital to the success of students on college campuses. Demonstrating that learning opportunities can take place outside of a traditional classroom and that engagement with resources and people can look different depending on the spaces you occupy are both essential skills needed to create well rounded citizens. It’s not every day that a former bookworm can say they’ve been able to blend their love of libraries and their current passions working with students. This position allowed me to do both and I’m forever grateful to have had the opportunity to work with this amazing program.
Remember, the Library is more than just a building on campus; it is a place to create, innovate, and engage beyond the stacks and study carrels. Follow us on social media for updates and event information during the 2018-2019 school year. Have a great summer!