My time as an Engagement Assistant began in February of this year. I had been looking for an on-campus job for quite some time and I actually happened to see an ad for it posted on the libraries’ Instagram page. As a book lover, creative writing major, and student who has just spent entirely too much time in Strozier, I thought this just might be the perfect role for me. I emailed right away inquiring about the position and the response confirmed everything I already believed: it was a perfect match.
As an Engagement Assistant, I would be tasked with engaging with students while promoting library resources and services. I would also help to brainstorm and plan events for the library with a team of 3 other Engagement Assistants. I would also be able to work on projects that made great use of my writing and entry-level graphic design skills.
As someone who would like to pursue a career in marketing after college this job has given me many opportunities to gain experience in the field. From grassroots marketing like tabling and simply talking to students, to conducting market research by having students fill out brief surveys, to designing materials for library events. This role has allowed me to get an idea of what the rest of my career could look like. Prior to this job I had never designed anything in an official capacity, only for myself as I tried to teach myself the entirety of Adobe Creative Cloud in the throws of Quarantine. I have been able to hone my skills through the completion of projects and insightful feedback from my boss.
My background in retail has made this experience quite different from what I’m used to as an employee. I’m used to a fast-paced, quantifiable results-oriented environment. While the role is results-oriented, I have found that I am able to take my time with projects and produce more quality work over sheer quantity. Not only that but the projects are exciting! It’s so fun to go behind the curtain of a part of campus that has been so heavily involved in my college career. It’s also nice to have some input on student programming to make the experience that much better. Not only that but the input that my peers and I contribute is actually valued. The schedule has been very flexible as well since this is an on-campus job everyone is very understanding of the difficulties of balancing work and school as a full-time student. This has been a very nurturing experience and I feel a growing passion for creating useful experiences for students to not only learn something but also have fun.
My favorite project by far has been the Summer Photo Wall and Bucket Lists. Since the summer semester is a shorter time period with significantly fewer students there wouldn’t necessarily be enough time to have actual events as we have in the fall and spring semesters. With that being said we wanted to create something that would carry throughout the summer and be more of an independent activity that would still encourage library engagement. Through brainstorming and research, we came up with the idea to design an interactive photo wall where students could come and sign the wall as well as take a photo to ‘check-in’ and mark the beginning of the summer semester. We also added a QR code to remind students to back at the end of the semester to ‘check-out”.
The second part of this project is the Summer Bucket list which was designed to resemble a library check-out card. We designed two lists: one for the main Strozier library and one for Dirac Science Library. Each list Included items and activities about how students can become engaged with the libraries and the larger campus community. Each list had different themes: Dog Days at Dirac and 500 days of Strozier. By the end of the summer, we had over 200 signatures from students on the photo wall. It is so rewarding to see people engage with something you’ve been working on and imagine the ways in which it might bring people joy.
While I was “away” for most of this summer serving as an orientation leader here at FSU, I’ve learned a lot in the 4 consecutive months I got to be here, especially from my coworkers. I’m so grateful for this job because it’s the first time I actually was doing something I wanted to do. I found myself getting excited to come and continue working on projects. I didn’t just have a boss but more of a mentor who was always willing to teach and guide me through things and check in with me throughout the semester. I always knew if I had a question I could ask, whether it was about school or work or somewhere in between. I’ve gained so many transferable skills, and a few friends along the way, and if you can walk away from a job with at least that, I think you’re doing pretty okay.
Blog post written by Ashanti Grace, Student Engagement Assistant at FSU Libraries, 2022.