I completed the strands for the St Andrews Award in the following order: Giving to Others, Extending your Horizons, Working for your Future, and Contributing to University Life. The St Andrews Award has supported my development and has encouraged me to complete regular tasks with a different mindset and to seek out new tasks that will help me in the future. For the first time, became the president of a university society and learned all of the responsibilities accompanying that role. In the specific case of Anza, the role of president came paired with the role of Student Ambassador to the NGO. This gave me experience working with an NGO, which improved my CV and my understanding of the relationships between NGOs and universities. The St Andrews Award will foster my development in this by encouraging me to create strong relationships with my superiors within the NGO that will aid me in attaining a career in that sector.
The St Andrews Award encouraged me to improve my employability. By applying for it, I learned to articulate the skills I developed during my internship with U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, as society president and student ambassador of Anza, as a volunteer with Riding with the Disabled, and as a culturally aware person to future employers. I became more driven to find channels of work that will help me in the future. By participating in the St Andrews Award, I achieved a greater understanding of my strengths and weaknesses and how they will affect my future career. I aspire to overcome my weaknesses and become a more rounded person for my efforts.
While completing my first strand of the St Andrews Award, Giving to Others, with Riding with the Disabled I expected to acquire a variety of social skills would help me in my future career. These included punctuality, demonstrating responsibility, and commitment. My responsibilities as an RDA volunteer included setting up for sessions by preparing the arena and tacking up the horses and both leading the horses and walking beside the riders to ensure they followed directions and participated actively in the exercises set my the instructor.
I established four goals when I began volunteering with Riding with the Disabled and I achieved them successfully. Firstly, I aimed to assist in preparing for the sessions every week, which included setting up the arena, making sure the horses are ready on time, and ensuring that all necessary pieces of equipment were in place. Executing these activities correctly helped to ensure the session ran smoothly, safely, and on time. I achieved this and was allotted additional the responsibility of tacking up horses on my own. Secondly, I stayed for both sessions of RDA, which allowed for a faster turnover between sessions and provided the riders with a sense of continuity. Thirdly, I completed my “green card” indicating that I attained all of the necessary training to volunteer independently. Fourth and finally, I studied how the instructors formulated their plans for each session. Two instructors gained their certification while I was volunteering, so I was able to see the formation process of the session plans by studying their progress.
During my time volunteering at RDA, I was taught how to be flexible within my role in a structured work environment. Further, RDA helped me build my skill set for working around horses and with people who might be unfamiliar with horses. I experienced the importance of consistency and communication to ensure there were enough volunteers to safely conduct each session in a timely manner.
Whilst completing the ‘Extending your Horizons’ strand, I attempted to grasp the intricacies of travel and culture. I hoped to be able to interact more with business people, instead I learned more about the ways in which culture influences people and how working people manage in cosmopolitan cities that are often frequented by non-business people. I maintained four goals: to understand new ways of thinking that were directly linked to culture, to experience culture and understand how it influences individuals, to understand how locals, or residents, work in culturally dependent environments, and to successfully coordinate transportation and itineraries for myself and for part of the way, a friend.
I was most successful in achieving my goal of how the populations of local and business people interact around non-professional groups. I observed that they accounted for tourists, solicitors, and others into their daily routines by taking different routes. This enabled me to gain some insight into what sort of working environment I might enjoy in the future as I am attracted to cities with history and culture that often attract holiday goers. It also proved my theory that it is possible to maintain professional, yet relaxed relationships despite any setting.
I accomplished coordinating my own transportation, after a few setbacks, and organizing my travel on a trip. My mistakes in reading the train schedules taught me to plan ahead. Further, I coordinated with various airlines during the strike on the day I intended to leave Italy.
I acquired insight as to how culture influences professionals during this two-week period. In Luxembourg, where the number of languages spoken was very clearly a product of the country’s history and location, this was particularly applicable. Throughout my travels, I observed business people walking to work and having leisurely lunch breaks in comparison to what I have noticed in the US and the UK. I also noticed many more people taking business calls outside or over long lunches out of the office.
This opportunity has not only broadened my horizons, but it has informed me as to a type of place I would like to live and work in in the future. I consider traveling as a form of education and I certainly hope to travel more during my studies at St Andrews. As I am studying International Relations, I need the education from travelling and from academia to succeed in my future professional environment.
While interning for six weeks in the Office of U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, I built contacts for my future career. I made connections for future jobs and internships through networking with my co-workers, learned how Congressmen work with their constituents in their home states, assisted the Senator’s constituents with their needs regarding federal agencies, and helped the staffers with secretarial duties such as copying, faxing, and digitising past documents. Others will know I have accomplished my goal by the change in my professional attitude, the presence of professional connections, and by my competence to complete tasks around an office.
My job was predominately to answer the phone and digitise files. When answering the phone, we provide constituents with phone numbers, information on the Senator’s opinion on specific issues, and contact information for the staffers. I learned and practiced my skills using Intranet Quorum, which is a secure software that stores contacts and messages. This will probably be useful throughout my career as I may utilize similar software.
I had the opportunity to learn more about grant writing. I learned the process that went into processing applications, writing letters in response, and filing applications with outside sources. This will benefit me in the future as I plan on working for an NGO and with my yearlong internship with Anza, an NGO.
This internship taught me customer service. When a caller was requesting information, it was essential for me to know the most current news reports, and how to present the information to aggravated constituents. Many constituents wanted to present their concerns on particular issues or have their questions answered; however, some would like to express their frustration only. Many callers confused Senate issues with state or local issues, meaning that we couldn’t help them. The necessary transfer to a different office frustrated many callers, but many also understood the necessity.
I added the staffers and the caseworkers on LinkedIn and asked for their contact information. Further, my fellow interns endorsed some of my skills and wrote me recommendations on the site and I reciprocated. I believe this was a very important step to strengthening my profile, my CV, and my job prospects. I asked the Chief of Staff’s Executive Assistant to give me advice on my resume. All of these were important steps in making connections towards my future career.
I grew from this experience by learning about how offices such as the Senator’s respond to current news and handle their constituent’s complaints and concerns. I also gained much experience in customer service and dealing with difficult people. Further, I increased my experience with new computer software and secretarial duties that I’m sure to use in my future career.
I have become President and Student Ambassador of Anza, a charitable society, which I helped start up as its Vice President last year. This position has allowed me to contribute to university life by creating a new society that both provides students with the experience of working with a UK registered charity and provides the president of the society with a yearlong internship. A Student Ambassador works 10 hours per week promoting and fundraising for Anza. I have weekly reports and send them to the Student Fundraising Adviser, Ani Cammack. I have control over the Anza email account in order to communicate with businesses around St Andrews to encourage them to help us fundraise.
I have worked to recruit people to go on the Moroccan Venture in August of 2016 with St Andrews Anza. This is a 10-day trek through the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco. I have recruited four people and myself to go on this venture. We will begin fundraise through Virgin Money Giving. I set up my account and wrote out instructions for how to set up a VMG account for the other attendees. As individuals going on the venture are beginning raise money from family and friends over the summer, I am keeping up with them and recording the amounts they are putting into their VMG accounts. Both recruiting people and guiding them through the process of fundraising has helped me understand people’s needs throughout a complicated and delicate process of fundraising for an organization. I hope to work for an NGO or a non-profit in the future, so this is an excellent experience for me.
I have planned and prepared for events during Fresher’s week and throughout the rest of the year. I succeeded in hosting two events each month, which helped promote our society. These events made money for the society in addition to charging for membership. They have also taught me how to gage interests in events for my future career and how to engage people in conversation. This will be an important skill to utilize in interviews and with day-to-day activities in the work place.
I have been learning how to work with committee members and the student union. The process of becoming a university society was started last year. I hoped to have it finished by September or October, but this process proved both time consuming and difficult I did not finish this goal by the time I had completed this strand, however, there is only one element left and I have complete confidence it will be finished by the time my term with Anza is over. Working with a committee taught me how to schedule meetings and encourage attendance. This will aid me in my future career if I manage a group of people or work in a group environment.
The St Andrews Award has encouraged me to advocate for myself and to attain positions that will attract future employers. It has also given me the confidence to apply for new opportunities and the ability to articulate who I aspire to be in the future.