Amy’s Edinburgh Award for the Open Content Internship

As part of our Open Content Curation Internship, we have been given an opportunity to complete the Work Experience focused Edinburgh Award. As part of this award, you choose three skills that you would like to improve upon during the course of your internship (or other work experience). This can be anything from how you communicate with others to how confident you are in your planning and organisational skills.

I am starting my Master’s in Astrophysics in September and, because of this, I would like to improve upon a few different skills that should help me work and study more effectively over the next 12 months and (hopefully) the rest of my working life! In order to do this, I have chosen three rather different skills to focus on during my 12-week internship.

The first is my ability to reflect upon my learning and working experiences. As a full-time student, understanding different learning styles and preferences and recognising which you tend to use in a work situation is very important but often something not encouraged during your time at university. Most people already have study strategies and good work practises in place before they get to university, but what if you don’t? What if your usual methods don’t work as successfully as they have done in the past? Coming to university is a big change and the teaching style is very different from anything you experience elsewhere. Reflecting on your previous experiences to improve your working style is key to unlocking your full potential.

In order to improve upon this skill, I am going to take some time to learn about different study and concentration boosting techniques and apply them to my work this summer. These will include:

  • getting an extra hour of sleep
  • exercising more frequently and getting out in nature
  • daily meditation
  • eliminating distractions in my workspace and taking regular screen breaks
  • listening to different kinds of music – particularly classical and lo-fi study playlists

Over the next five weeks, I plan on implementing one technique per week into my daily routine and commenting on how I feel during my day-to-day activities. Theoretically, at least some of these should help improve my productivity, the quality of my work as well as my overall sense of wellbeing. I will also look at different tools to help with these techniques, like mobile apps to eliminate distractions or to access guided meditations.

Secondly, I have chosen to focus on research and enquiry based skills where I will aim to learn to use a new piece of software that should be helpful in my future career and/or studies. I would like to learn how to use the Mendeley Reference Manager to stay on top of all the reading and research I will do as part of my Master’s project and dissertation. This will help me organise and keep track of papers I have read, and any notes I make on them, which will be critical to the success of the large research project I am undertaking next year. As this is something a lot of undergraduates are unfamiliar with, I hope to record my experiences and share an openly licensed guide with others on how to use Mendeley and why it might be useful to an undergraduate student.

The final skill that I’m looking to develop over the next few weeks is my decision-making. While rather different from the first two skills I have chosen, quick and appropriate decisions in the workplace are very important, and knowing how to make the right call in a work environment can be critical to your productivity and overall satisfaction with your experience. As part of my everyday work so far during my internship, I have had to make key decisions regarding how publishable the resources we work on are, as well as what content in them is relevant and what needs to be removed. I will continue to do this for the remainder of my time with the OER department, as well as making decisions about what study and working styles are best for me!

I’m really looking forward to working towards this award as it is a really great opportunity. I’m also really grateful that the team I work within has been so supportive in my pursuit of skills that will lend themselves to my future career and healthy working practise and I can’t wait to see how it goes!

Header image: “Studying” by Steven S. on Flickr, CC BY 2.0