Julia Coney – Six Months With ISG

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Programme of Study and Year: Social Anthropology and Politics (MA Hons), Year 2

Intern Position: Learn Foundations Intern

Hobbies: Engaging in Platonic dialogues

Favourite song right now: Hard to Explain or Get Free

Describe your role in 4 words: Lots of Microsoft Excel!

It’s a familiar process, you’re enjoying the welcome relief of the winter break and then, without you noticing, winter becomes spring. With summer looming large, you find yourself thinking, wait, what am I doing over the break? And so it begins – the annual summer job search!

Last year, I was determined to leave the hospitality industry behind and secure a position where I could gain experience and skills that will be useful in my professional life. While scrolling through the Unitemps website, I stumbled upon the Learn Foundations Intern role with the Information Services Group (ISG) and fortunately was accepted to be one of twenty interns involved in the project.

Now that I’ve been an intern for eight months, I feel like it’s a good time to reflect on my experience. My friends and family understand that my position is technology related but are still somewhat unsure about what I actually do (I keep being asked to fix faulty phones). I hope to shed some light on my daily tasks for those curious about the experience of being a Learn Foundations Intern.

Summer With Learn Foundations

Starting at the end of May, my internship was initially 9-5 for sixteen weeks. This was more than a little daunting as I would be in the role for pretty much the entire summer. It did lead me to wonder, will I still be able to enjoy the break before term starts again? Perhaps counterintuitively, I had more free time while working full-time than I typically do during the academic year. After 17:00 your time is yours to spend as you wish. No assignments! No essential readings! The schedule offered by an office role is great for people who, like myself, feel as though they should always be completing coursework or preparing for the next assessment.

During office hours my main task, at least at the internship’s beginning, was to assist with the move from Learn Original to Learn Ultra. This involved going into the 2023/24 versions of courses to apply templates, check that those templates were applied correctly, and input information from the DRPS (Degree Regulations & Programmes of Study). All of these actions and checks were logged on a workflow (a huge excel spreadsheet which looks scary but is actually fairly easy to understand).

Later in my internship, I was tasked with manually moving all content between versions of Learn. This was very time-consuming but was also something I enjoyed as I was required to make decisions on how best to accommodate for differences between the two versions of Learn. Another task involved checking the accessibility of Learn courses and the documents contained within. Factors such as the font and the contrast between the text and background would be marked down in a matrix (another excel spreadsheet!) so that the overall accessibility of the course and school as a whole could be assessed.

As a Social Anthropology and Politics student, I was very much outnumbered by interns studying Computing Science and Psychology, among other – predominantly STEM – subjects. Despite not learning programming or working with spreadsheets as part of my degree (and experiencing a smidge of imposter syndrome as a result), at no point did I feel like I was at any kind of disadvantage. Working as part of such a large team meant that interns could support one another by quickly answering queries.

The word ‘networking’ also appeared fairly frequently during my time at ISG. Not only was this my first internship, but it was also my first time being asked for my LinkedIn. To me, networking had always seemed like something carried out by business executives rather than university students. Over the summer, I came to understand that networking could be as simple as exchanging contact details with colleagues. Working at ISG provided many opportunities to meet like-minded people, especially since I was part of such a large team of interns.

Autumn With Digital Skills

At the end of the summer, I applied to continue my internship into term-time and was chosen to work with the Digital Skills Team! Although I was initially nervous about balancing my intern role with coursework, I only work for a very manageable seven hours a week so haven’t had any issues. There’s a lot of flexibility with the times and days I can work, and I was allowed to split my hours across two days to accommodate my university schedule. For those with classes in George Square, dashing from a lecture to Argyle House is much easier than it seems!

With the end of my original summer internship came new responsibilities and a new desk (excel remains a constant). My primary task is to look at data relating to training courses held by the Digital Skills Team and provide figures such as the total number of sessions and attendees. I also have to separate the data into different schools within the university; each spreadsheet should only include the information about attendees employed within a specific school. For me, this task is perfect in that it develops upon the skills I learned over the summer. The training report data sets are even larger than the data sets I worked with over the summer, and the task requires (slightly) more advanced excel skills.

As well as working with the training reports, I have gradually been given various other responsibilities. I am working to promote Ally – a tool which allows you to create alternative formats of files within Learn (so if you’re reading this, go and try it out in one of your Learn courses by clicking on the little ‘A’ symbol to the right of a file!). This task involves creating promotional materials, so I have had to harness my creativity and learn the Canva ropes. Although it’s very different from my previous projects, I’m enjoying developing my marketing and graphic design skills.

My Thoughts

Hopefully you now have a better idea of what it’s like to be an intern with ISG and what exactly I’ve been doing over these past eight months. Time has flown and it’s the start of the second semester again. My internship so far has provided me with the opportunity to develop my skills – from data handling to graphic design – and to gain valuable work experience within a professional setting. I’m lucky enough to be with the Digital Skills Team until April and am looking forward to all of the exciting challenges I’ll encounter this spring.

If you’re unsure about applying for an internship with ISG, go for it! Depending on the role, you don’t necessarily need experience and they’re a great introduction to the professional workplace environment. For those looking for a part-time job, ISG internships allow you to earn money while also gaining useful skills. Thank you for reading!


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