Overcoming Anxiety Limitations

Image highlighting a stressed individual with lots of thoughts going round her head.

My name is Amber Berry and I have anxiety. This sounds like a weird confession, or a secret coming out. The word anxiety itself I think is a word that scares a lot of people, purely because they don’t understand it. Or it’s the other end and they know exactly what it is and that’s exactly what scares them. I don’t think it has to be any of these things, it’s simply a small part of me. Not a part of who I am, but still its apart of my being. It’s a part of my being that brings struggles and I was scared that these struggles would affect my performance during the student internship. However, the internship has done something that I didn’t expect. It’s helped me improve. In this blog post, I’m hoping to detail how and that if anyone sees this who is interested in similar opportunities but is worried of being overwhelmed. I want to reassure you that it isn’t as immense or intimidating as it might seem.

Camera Lense

People. Now people are an interesting subject for me. I love them but new people…. I shrivel into a cocoon and want to hide from the world. It comes from a fear of judgement being afraid that myself is too much. Yet, there’s two things that’s slowly allowed me to start to eradicate this fear. Firstly, the people aren’t the people that we fear. Everyone I’ve met so far on this internship have been some of the most accepting, caring, and welcoming people. Everyone completely different but still helping each other. Also, with most of the interactions taking place online. I’ve been able to face my social fears from the comfort of my living room. As little as it might sound, being in a space that is familiar removes some of that facing the unknown which can be so daunting. I was talking to people in the space filled with memories with all the people I loved. In the place where the goofiest, real me wan usually on full display. Why should I let that change just because a camera is on? That made the biggest difference of all, because if people are being so kind and accepting of the real version of me, there was nothing to be afraid of.

Well, there’s one of the biggest obstacles taken care of but I know there’s more. I was scared that I might be too overwhelmed and that the work might feel like a tidal wave. It had happened before with university work at times and I didn’t want to push myself to hard. But the internship has taught me some valuable lessons on how to manage this stress. We use outlook calendar to view our meetings and see things clearly. I’ve figured not only having a routine but being able to see it visually and clearly helped immensely. It made me feel prepared and ready for the weeks. Moreover, I’ve been able to learn how to keep a work and life balance. Whereas at university I found it difficult to split my time between them. I now know when I need a break, what to do on said break, when I need to see some of my favourite humans and sometimes when I just need to be alone. It’s something that I wish I had known a long time ago, and it’s something I don’t think a lot of people think about.

I want this to be an encouragement, to everyone who worries their differences, or their fears will be obstacles. Even if they are, it won’t control your experience and there’s the possibility to accomplish things you’d never expect. Don’t let yourself be held back by anything, take control and remember that nothing defines you unless you allow it to.

By Amber Berry (Student Intern)

Amber Berry, Student Intern

How to prepare for an easy day

After 20 years, I am slowly starting to appreciate the importance of time. Sure, I am sometimes excellent at time management, but then I can be awful. For example, one day last week, I thought it would be a great idea to stay awake until 3:00 am and then be up, ready and prepared for 8:45 am. However, after that, it all went downhill.

Think about your past week. Did you wake up every morning prepared and fully awake? Don’t worry if you didn’t, but it highlights you might need to change your lifestyle. This Student Internship is a fantastic opportunity, but sometimes it can be overwhelming so let’s change our habits to be the best we can!

I am not sure if Headspace wants to give me a sponsorship deal because I am essentially promoting their app right now, but last week I found out that you can get Headspace for free if you have a student Spotify account. The app is a means of making your life better. For example, this week, I have used it every night, and I have even fallen asleep from some of the guided meditations.

Mindfulness

Don’t worry, I know what you are thinking right now, I know some of you don’t really ‘vibe’ with meditations, but there is also calming music and other activities to look at if you are interested. Nevertheless, I am essentially trying to convey meditation is an excellent means for this internship. If we are fully alert and prepared for our early starts, it will significantly impact our contribution to this internship. In fact, I’d even argue that everyone around you will benefit from it.

What if you completed this every weekday? It would become a part of your daily life and would feel less like a daily chore. YOU NEED TO DO THIS!

OK, I will stop shouting now… I might just be getting a bit carried away. Another way to prepare for work is to make sure you update the Microsoft Teams calendar. On Monday, I scheduled everything I had to complete this week. I promise you it will improve your time-management skills, and it just makes others aware that you might be busy, so they don’t bother you. One thing I dislike is people bothering me when I am really, really, really busy (I turn into a mini Hulk). So, for me, this just massively helps my concentration throughout the day. It allows me to have structure, and sequentially, I perform more effectively.

Picture of an a small alarm clock

At the end of the day, maybe ask yourself did you complete all your tasks? Did you feel calm? Did Reece’s advice work? If not, I guess my psychology degree was all for nothing… I am just joking. Just try your best, and you never know you may benefit from reading this blog.

By Reece Thomas (Student Intern)

Picture of Reece Thomas.

A Week in the Life of a Student Intern

Week 2

Monday

When I woke up on Monday morning, my first thought was, I start in my department today. At first, I was really nervous. I was so used to having forty other people with me, but this time it was different. Thankfully, we still had a big meeting with all of us first thing at 9am with the LTD team to ease us into the morning. After completing Phase 1, which was the induction and training week, Phase Two was going to be working in our allocated departments on a range of projects, whilst still gaining and enhancing our skills. Luckily, we aren’t fully leaving the LTD team yet as they are going to be giving us additional support and training over the next few weeks.

Next, we had a meeting with our new line manager and our key contact for the next eleven weeks, as I have been assigned to the Faculty of Education – My key contact is Sarah Wright. She assigned us our weekly tasks on Monday, including: reading lists, learning episodes and getting to grips with software’s such as Padlet, Adobe Spark and Google Sheets. I was really looking forward to learning about new software and gaining more experience working with a smaller cohort.

Photograph of workspace including laptop and Ipad.

Tuesday

Tuesday, Tuesday, Tuesday,  I had a great start to my Tuesday morning. As a team we had all met at 9am to discuss our plan for the day and to collaboratively work on an Adobe Spark poster, introducing us to the rest of the department. My part in this was making sure that the poster contained Alt Text so it was easily accessible. Learning how to make documents accessible is really important especially within a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). As part of my role within the internship, I will be able to assess and apply my knowledge of accessibility to Learning Modules so they are accessible for everyone.

Meeting everyday at nine with my team really is a great start to the day, it allows us to track our progress. The way to do this even more efficiently is that we decided to shift speaker every week, this allows us all to enhance our ability to lead a meeting. We also have someone designated as the minute taker, so if anyone is unsure on what to do next or wants to reflect on the meeting, they have a document containing all the information.

Tuesday was the day that we also met with the FoE social media team and discussed multiple ways to promote the faculty on social media. Using social media is really important for Educational settings as they can communicate and collaborate online with one another to create and celebrate opportunities. I found this super useful as I was able to transfer these ideas to another project some of the Student Interns are working on, which is to use Social Media to promote the work we are completing as well and to promote the Internship.

Wednesday

I think most people can agree that on a Wednesday, you either feel great because Friday is only two days away or you are left in a little bit of a hump, because Friday is still only two days away. I was super excited to hear Laura and Leah’s advice and feedback to collective ideas the Social Media Intern Team had come up with. However before I could get carried away with ideas, I had tasks to complete for my department. Wednesday’s task was to start on a learning episode. A learning episode is a structured way of learning, especially useful when it comes to teaching and learning online. A learning episode can contain different online tools to help students stay engaged with the content. An online tool that I used throughout the learning episode which I constructed were: Adobe Spark and Padlet. This task really helped me understand the amount of work and effort our lecturers put in to every session they deliver.

I was so excited by the time half one had rolled around, because not only could I get my hands on some more social media content, but I also decided to collaborate with two of my fellow Student Interns, Rachel and Simon on bringing you this blog every week. This was a big step for me because usually I like working alone, but one thing the internship has taught me already is that teamwork is efficient and really helpful especially when you have thirty-nine other people to help you out when you are a little stuck.

Thursday

By the time Thursday had come, I was already almost finished with the tasks that Sarah had set us. So, I decided to refresh my mind on all the training which had been provided for us by Laura, Leah and the rest of the LTD team. Luckily for us all of our meetings and training sessions are recorded. So, after I finished my tasks I refreshed my mind on Accessibility, how to use Panopto and how to make PDF’s accessible (which before this session was posing many questions for me).

This took me a couple of hours, but I still had a lot of my working day left. I jumped onto a meeting with the rest of my FoE team and asked where they needed help. After sorting out a few issues and finally being able to put a banner on Blackboard I was done. But it was not yet five o’clock…

I think one of the best things about this internship is that you do really learn on the job. Both Laura and Sarah had expressed the importance of enhancing and gaining skills. Therefore, for the last hour of my working day, I completed a few LinkedIn Learning courses surrounding topics such as how to lead a meeting and how to utilize my skills to their best abilities.

Friday

Finally it was Friday and the second week of my internship was almost over. After my daily meeting, the first thing I did was Admin. I made sure I had filled out my daily timetable. Once that was checked off, I moved onto my weekly reflection. As a student it is important to reflect on your work, this is echoed within the Internship. We are encouraged to write about what we have done, what we found hard and how we overcame those challenges. Within mine, I spoke of how at the start of this week I lacked experience working with spreadsheets, because they can be finicky. Yet, by the end of the week, I became more aware of how they worked and came to grips with it. I had also watched a few LinkedIn Learning courses to help with some tricky parts too.  

Screenshot of LinkedIn Learning course open on laptop.

At the end of the day, I was looking forward to my next week working with my department and excited to work further with my team.

By Sharnie Bowen (Student Intern)

Getting ready for a day as a Student Intern

I think we can all agree that getting ready for work when we’re online is strangely different. We get to sleep later, wonder if pyjamas are appropriate work attire and see the couch as an appropriate workstation.

Everyone has a slightly different routine, but I find we can learn tips and tricks from each other!

Watch the video below where I explain my morning routine for getting ready for Microsoft Teams calls, and maybe we can both gain some new tips and tricks!

By Amber Berry (Student Intern)

Confident, Coherent and Captivating… 10 top tips for thriving in your online job!

Hello!

My name is Eleanor, I am a Digital Student Intern at Edge Hill University and within this post I will share some of the things which I do to boost my confidence in video meetings and help me to work well at home online! Grab yourself a cup of tea and your favourite snack and read on…

Get showered, do your hair, put your face on!

Working at home is great, no need to sit on public transport to get to the office, no small talk with strangers or squeezing into a tight suit on a hot day! Comfort is key, so choose something comfortable to wear for your workday- after all, the camera only picks up your top half, right? Absolutely, although physical preparation to snap yourself into a productive headspace is important too. Much as we all love them, pyjamas are not designed to wear at the office and getting dressed for the day is a brilliant way to throw yourself into a great headspace! Set an alarm to wake you up with enough time to have a shower, wash your face, tame the bed-hair and put your success face on!

Fuel yourself!

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day… But ensuring you schedule yourself time for lunch, maybe a snack and drinking water are also just as important! No-one can thrive on an empty stomach, and to perform at your very best it is so important to look after your body too- a race-car wouldn’t win the Grand Prix with an empty fuel tank!

Photograph of a breakfast table with a variety of food.

A good background keeps the focus on you!

Let’s keep you in the spotlight! Working online means colleagues, clients and anyone else within your meetings only see a tiny version of you in a box on their computer screen- this box must portray the best you! You have got your face of success ready to go, keeping your background plain and discreet keeps distractions from you at bay. Using a plain wall, bookcase or even blurring your background using your video software is a great way to achieve this and allows you to be the star of the show!

Sit up straight and you’ll do great!

Working at a desk or table can help with feeling confident on video calls too! As far as I am aware, most companies don’t hold meetings on sofas- just sitting up at an organised desk with all your resources in front of you and in a supportive chair is another trick to keep you in that workplace mindset. Not only this but sitting at a desk or table also enhances communication skills as it replicates being in an in-person environment where body language and posture is important!

Photograph of office work desk including a keyboard, writing notebook and cup of coffee.

Fancy a cuppa?

Having a drink (whether it be a cup of tea, coffee, water or a soft drink) beside me whilst on video calls is an absolute must-have! Whether it is to ensure you stay hydrated throughout the workday, something to sip on whilst listening to others, or something to clear your throat whilst you are presenting, always keep a beverage to hand. Additionally, taking a break from your laptop screen is so important to aid concentration and avoid headaches/sore eyes, something which making yourself a quick drink provides the perfect solution for!

Working hours only!

Working online from home comes with its challenges, particularly as the lines can become blurred between work and relaxation! Having a space away from work and meetings is important, try to avoid working on your bed or in your ‘relaxing’ or social space where possible. Not only will this enhance productivity, motivation and concentration when working, but your time away from work becomes as separate from your work life as possible! No need for worrying about work when you should be watching a film, spending time with family and friends, or going to sleep!

A quiet space for hearing yourself think!

One of the best ways for me to get myself into the zone and perform at my best within video calls and at work online is to work in a quiet space, away from distractions. Whether this be in a private room with the door closed, outside on a sunny day, or in a part of the house away from the centre of the hustle and bustle of everyday, having the space to think, concentrate and contribute without being interrupted is imperative!

Calm the nerves off camera…

Use the shoulder-only view of video calls to your advantage! Keep something to fiddle with out of the camera view, such as a pen or a fidget toy to calm your nerves off the lens! For me, this helps my concentration and increases confidence and focus whilst working online at home, as well as aiding clear and coherent delivery of contributions to meetings!

Preparation is key!

Scheduling, to-do lists and keeping a detailed calendar are crucial to working successfully at home- a paper calendar is great, although the Microsoft Teams calendar is fantastic at keeping all your meetings, appointments, and deadlines in one place too! Additionally, taking a couple of minutes to breathe, look over agendas and prepare yourself before video calls is a great way to feel confident and assured before you start- you’ve got this!

Photograph of a calendar.

A pen and paper never go out of fashion!

Having a notepad and pen to hand whilst on video calls and meetings is a great way to quickly note down thoughts and ideas which you may have. Handwriting ideas down can also be beneficial to refer back to, or write up on your computer to revise them, develop them, and make them more coherent afterwards! Our brains are wonderous things which (given a little care, focus and love) provide the opportunity for excellence!

I hope that these 10 Top Tips for thriving in your online job help to boost your confidence within your work and online meetings… Most importantly though, remember that the key to success is YOU! Be kind to yourself, prepare yourself and push yourself- the world is your oyster!

By Eleanor Rowell (Student Intern)

Photograph of Eleanor.

A week in the life of a Student Intern

WEEK ONE

Monday:

Day one of 12 weeks has begun. I woke up at 8am ready and raring to go (the first wake up is always the easiest). I did the usual, brush my teeth, wash my face and then a quick shower. The time is now 8:20am and I find myself stood in the mirror pondering over “what on Earth do I wear when working from home?” Anyone else have serious issues with this? I wanted a nice top so that I looked presentable on Teams but then I also felt strange getting all dressed up to literally sit in my bedroom. Not to mention the fact that it was boiling outside so this just confused the situation more. Anyway, after the first unnecessary drama of the day, I sat down at my desk, opened my laptop and mentally prepared for what was about to begin. Forty unfamiliar faces on my screen staring right back at me, it was safe to say I was thrown right into the deep end. Ignoring the nerves, I switched my webcam on and became a part of the team.

Photograph of computer with people on an online video call.

Fast forward a few hours and I am so completely content that I have made the right decision for my career and my summer. I had so many doubts about not being capable enough for the job and worries about missing out on things over the summer due to working full time. However, a few sessions in and I already felt confident that I was being trained by the most equipped and experienced members of staff and surrounded by passionate and supportive work colleagues.

After a long day of ice breakers and training sessions, I logged off ready for the next day.

Tuesday:

Today we dived right in with all things accessibility. I found out that my role throughout this internship is going to be very focused on ensuring all University documents are as accessible as they can be, for example, they include alt-text on images, headings and subheadings and are a readable font etc.

After this we met with the LTD team (which really put me at ease knowing that I will be working with such an approachable and intelligent team) and then began to discuss and work using Blackboard Ally. Having self-directed time today allowed us to actively practice using Blackboard Ally therefore giving me more confidence for the weeks ahead.

Wednesday:

Today we learnt about Panopto which was a strange experience for me. Panopto is a platform that allows lecturers to upload their lecture slides and add a voice over to them in order to create a lecture. Panopto also incorporates captions throughout the videos to ensure that the lectures become accessible for students. In order to practice we had to create our own videos and have a look at the captions that Panopto automatically creates. I really had to wrap my head around talking into a laptop and then listening to my voice back but as soon as I got comfortable with the software, I felt a lot better about the whole thing.

We also had a session today about learning moving online/blended learning. This session provided the opportunity to learn more about the transition to online learning. It was also an opportunity for the rest of the cohort to share their experiences. I found myself getting emotional during this session due to discussing the past year and how isolated it has made students feel and all the things we missed out on. But it was good to hear from others too, highlighting our shared experiences and determination to adapt to a tough year.

Thursday:

I woke up fresh and in a good mood today. We jumped into the day talking about social media and blogs which of course sparked my interest massively due to it already being something I partake in and it being something I want to engage with for the rest of my career.

The next massive highlight of the day was finally meeting my departmental contacts. This at first was nerve-wracking as it was a new person I had to familiarise myself with, but it all so quickly became such a relaxed and positive experience due to my department head being so welcoming, compassionate and just a pleasure to talk to. The meeting felt relaxed which put me at ease about the thought of the next 11 weeks.

When the day ended it was time for me to travel back to my hometown (with Mum and Dad where the food is free). The full week took its toll on me as I travelled back on the train and as soon as I arrived home I unpacked and went straight to sleep.

Friday:

The final day of week one, I cannot believe how fast it has gone! Waking up this morning alarmed me how READY I was for the weekend. Although I was tired, I was equally excited to finish the week in what I knew was going to be an interactive day.

We started the day by going into groups and creating our ‘perfect VLE’. This was such an exciting experience as I got to speak to people that I had not previously spoken too and really got the chance to be creative and confident within a group.

Photograph of steps, with the quote "All ideas grow out of other ideas".

A lot of the day was then spent practicing and reminding ourselves of all the things we had learnt in the past week in order to be completely ready for the weeks ahead and to enhance our confidence in the skills.

We ended the day by completing a reflection task in order to make ourselves aware of how much we had already learnt. This was such a rewarding task as it allowed me to acknowledge how much my confidence had grown in just a week which just made it seem like anything is possible over the space of this internship.

After logging off, in true Friday night style, I got myself ready and headed out with my friends. It felt so good to let my hair down after a long week and to celebrate absolutely smashing my first week!

Cheers to 11 more weeks of challenges, fun and learning experiences!

By Rachel Roche (Student Intern)

Photograph of Rachel Roche

All Aboard the Internship

Application Process

“The future depends on what you do today.”

Progression through life always requires change and spur of the moment decisions, there’s no way around that. The basis of this statement is what encouraged me to start on this Internship. My current degree and hopefully my future career is completely technology based, but when you focus so much on that side, on the side of technological advancement you start to lose focus on your other skills as a human, namely communication and a variety of social skills. I didn’t want to spend all summer on another internship sat behind a computer with no other real way to progress the other skills that can always be viewed as some of the most important in life.

After viewing the job description and person specification for this newly created Student Intern role, it seemed like such a pivotal opportunity for change, to be able to build upon my skills. One of the duties within the Internship was to “work collaboratively across the team with fellow students” and that seemed to be the best way for me to improve my communication skills.  Even at the time of applying to the internship the idea of being thrown into calls and meetings was daunting! But to truly create change you need to face those struggles, you have to fight off that which scares you.

The application process consisted of mainly describing yourself, your current degree, times when you’ve faced hardships and faced defeat but still prevailed, and why you want to take part in this new initiative. It was different to anything I’ve ever done before. I’ve only had one job in the past, which was purely customer based and most of the time I would be working independently. So this internship seemed like a challenge. After filling in this stage of the application, I received an invite to an interview (I think anyone who’s ever had a job can agree interviews are the scariest thing on the planet.) I had no idea what to expect and sometimes that’s the best thing, going into something with no expectations because then in a way you can face anything.

Straight after the interview I realized there was no reason for me to be scared. The interview room consisted of me and 3 members of staff and it was played out as more of a dialogue between us. For example, questions were asked regarding my experience and how I have dealt with certain situations in the past. Overall the interview, which was what I thought was going to be the scariest part of the whole thing, turned out to be the easiest. I had no idea how well I did and it was hard to judge myself.

First Week

There was then a short gap between hearing back about my application being successful and starting the Internship – it was a perfect amount of time to be prepared. I was delighted to be chosen for such an opportunity, to not only help future students and to further develop my skills, but to do so at the University I am currently studying at and to be able to see the impact of those changes.

Screenshot of congratulatory email offering the role of Student Intern.

On the first day, I joined a link to a meeting, not knowing what anyone would be like or what the environment would be like. But I was met with 40 other people in the same situation. That first day mainly consisted of getting to grips with the Internship, what a typical day would be like and what would we actually be doing in the forthcoming months.

Of course, what would the first day of any sort of job or course be like without the typical ice-breaker activities. But I must say, the activities that took place on this first day were completely different to what you might expect! It was scary being put in a smaller breakout rooms and actually having to talk for the first time on that day, but I had to remember when I was in that room that everyone there would be feeling the exact same as me!

Photograph of computer screen with  a video call taking place online.

The first activity was a “Get to know each other” kind of talk. It was so much easier to introduce myself to 3 or 4 other people than 40 other people. The other activity is what really homed in the fact that the internship would be different to anything else I might’ve chosen to apply for over this summer. It was to choose 3 celebrities, dead or alive, to have the ideal dinner party with. My group came up with: Gordon Ramsay, Shakespeare and Russell Howard. (Gordon Ramsay was the only one I was a bit hit or miss with – I would love his cooking but there was always the high chance of him throwing something at me.)

After that first day, it was like I was a completely different person, all of my worries and doubts about how the Internship would go had vanished. The rest of this week was based around building up on our current digital skills. I like to think that I understand technology, but this week really made me realize that there was so much I didn’t know! Even if the internship was just one week long I would have taken away so much! But the fact that I would still have 11 more weeks left made me excited to carry on forward! There isn’t anything I would change about this first week! All of the fellow Student Interns and staff I encountered and worked with couldn’t have been more engaging and supportive with my learning and development.

Looking Forward

At the time of writing this blog, I’m currently at the end of the second week. As of now I’ve been allocated to the department I’m going to be working with for the rest of the Internship and it definitely feels different from the first week. I’ve gone from working with 40 people to working with 2 others. I’ve been placed in the Faculty of Health and Social Care under the Nurse Education and Midwifery department. I’m super excited to be working through the rest of the Internship and to see how my digital skills and interpersonal skills develop.

I would suggest to anyone wondering what to do in the future, to find what resonates with them. No decision you make is going to be final! I would urge others to look for new and exciting opportunities that may feel at first different and challenging –  apply for new jobs, apply for internships and just do what makes you happy in life and what’s going to help you turn into the person you want to be.

Signing off,

Liam Boyd (Student Intern)

Photograph of Liam Boyd.