Student Partner perspective: expectations and experience
Ayma Masood Khan is a Biomedical Sciences student and a Student Partner Intern (SPI), and has been part of our Online Blended Learning (OBL) cohort this year. Over the 2020/21 academic year this cohort of SPIs have worked in partnership with staff, undertaking activities such as reviewing academic content and supporting transcription and subtitling projects across the University.
I came across this opportunity through an email from Peer Support and once again at a PASS training session. A few days after submitting the application form, I was offered an interview. However, Covid dropped in like a bomb. The University shut down, the country went into lockdown within days, and I was lucky enough to catch a flight back home before the travel restrictions were put into place. The face-to-face interview was now replaced by a video interview, only adding to my anxiety. We were asked to submit a 3-minute video answering some open-ended questions and why I would be suitable for the role. I recorded myself at least a million times, resaying my lines over and over until I was satisfied. After a long, yet anticipated period of time, I finally heard back.
We have now completed our review of all the applications, and after careful selection and consideration, we regret to inform you… Ouch!
If you are a uni student, chances are you have faced rejection at least once before in your life. They may sound different but feel pretty much the same – not great. My initial instinct was to ignore the email, but after 12 hours of trying to get over the disappointment, I finally decided to respond. I literally had to look up “how to respond to a rejection email”.
Thank you for staying in touch! I understand it was a difficult decision and if there is still anything I could help with remotely, I’m more than willing to do it. I am still looking for work experience to build my CV, so do inform me if any opportunities arise. Thank you!
I can tell you it’s true that when one door closes, many more open. Fast forward three months, I receive an email about an even better opportunity of a Student Partner Internship for an Online Blended Learning (OBL) cohort. After a live video interview and some HR questions, I was finally offered the role.
Expectation and experience
I remember being super anxious and excited on my first day as I didn’t know what to expect, but regardless, I was looking forward to it. Since I was a Biomedical Sciences student, I was assigned to the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health (FBMH) along with 4 other student partners. My role was quite diverse, and I was given the opportunity to work in groups and individually on a range of different projects. I collaborated with staff and students to develop, report and give regular feedback on online learning resources and lectures. I identified what I felt to be effective ways to deliver engaging lectures and was often challenged to think of new ideas on how to improve their delivery and accessibility to all students including thinking about the possible perspectives of those who are, for example, international or disabled. We also worked to create an online community with Psychology professor Christine Rogers, which included designing resources, videos and blogs that were relevant for students and staff throughout the University. These were focused on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of discussion boards and breakout room activities.
Furthermore, I participated in several focus groups, where I shared ideas on how to enhance the student online learning experience with teaching, management and IT staff. I also tested virtual labs and other courses for accessibility, user-friendliness, and improvements. Working with staff was different than I thought it would be, as they treated us as equals and appreciated our perspectives. It made me realise the amount of work that goes on backstage to enhance student experience, along with the planning professors do before uploading their lectures online
Looking back and looking forwards
What I enjoyed most was creating online resources and blogs, which involved voicing student opinions on ice breakers, Zoom lectures and pastoral support. Moreover, I enjoyed getting to know some of my professors outside of lectures by working alongside them and observing them implement our suggestions into their content delivery methods.
Looking back at my very first feedback and comparing it to my most recent one, I’ve realised that it has improved immensely. Along with becoming more organised and responsible, I have also become more confident in sharing my perspective and ideas by working with a diverse group of people. Not only that, but this role gave me something to look forward to during a lonely lockdown, not to mention the work itself felt so rewarding. I had the opportunity to bond with some amazing people over the last few months in an all-online space and work on some unique yet intriguing projects. I’m hoping to continue my work with the OBL cohort and I’m ready to take on the exciting new challenges this role may hold!
A special thanks to Matthew Oakley, Caroline Bowsher and Chloe Salins for supporting us through this wonderful journey and for keeping us motivated!
If you are interested in learning more about our Student Partner Internships, please see the Student Partners Programme pages.