Hi can you please introduce yourself?
Hi! My name is Elikem. I am from Ghana and I have been living in the Netherlands for almost six years. I am a former UCR student, and I currently work here as an International Officer in the Education and Student Office (ESO).
What do you do at UCR as an international officer?
My work mainly focuses on exchanges, so I am the contact person for students interested in an exchange semester. Students interested in doing an internship either here in the Netherlands or abroad can also reach me. I also help my colleagues with the enrolment of degree students, incoming exchange students and visiting students.
What are your day-to-day tasks within the role?
One of my day-to-day tasks involves interacting with students. If a student is having a challenging time finding a host university, I will have a meeting with the student to explore various options available. What do they want, and what kind of exchange experience are they seeking: do they want to go on exchange to experience a different culture, or is it solely academic-related? So, I ask various questions, from academics to social life, to budget; essentially, what does the student hope to achieve from their time away from UCR.
Based on these questions, we (the student and I) narrow down a list of universities and hopefully; find a university that best suits the student. Also, I work on enrolment with Karlijn (the registrar), so some of my day-to-day work are related to more administrative tasks with Osiris and making sure that degree students coming to UCR have a smooth transition.
Besides Karlijn, who do you work with on a daily basis?
So when I first started, I was sharing the office space with only Karlijn, and she helped me understand the enrolment process at UCR. Actually, from January to about March – April, we would work together every Thursday so she could teach me everything that I needed to know, and it made it much easier for me to do it alone. I also work with Jeanette the Head of the Student & Education Office sometimes, and this relates to exchange tasks. For example, in cases of a possible exchange partnership with another university. I also work with Richard van den Doel, the chair of the Board of Examiners. If students need signatures or have complex questions, I inform Richard so he can handle them.
So how does your day usually go from the moment you get out of bed?
Okay, so the moment I get out of bed, I pray, shower, eat something if I do have time, and if I do not have time, I usually buy something on the way. I walk to work, but as of yesterday, I got a bike, so my travel time should be approximately 5 minutes, instead of the usual 10 to 15 minutes to get to work. So, as soon as I arrive, I greet the receptionist, I make some tea which is on my way to the office, I greet all my colleagues, turn on my computer and log in to the Intranet and Osiris. Then I check my emails: I work from the bottom-up, and if they are simple emails, I answer them straightway and if they are more complex or maybe I need Karlijn’s help, I leave them to about 11 am or so when Karlijn is not busy so she can help me with them.
Every Monday at 11:30, we have our department meeting, where we receive information or an update on matters relating to our department. We also inform each other about what we are currently doing, questions we may have, or discussion points. Every Wednesday, I meet with Jeanette and inform her about any progress with exchanges. Usually, Wednesdays are also when I schedule student appointments, so if any student wants to meet and talk about exchanges and sometimes they want to talk about internships, I usually schedule them on Wednesdays. I chose Wednesdays because that’s when most students do not have classes which give them time to come and see me. Then for a lunch break, if it is nice outside I usually go out and grab a bite to eat with a colleague or sometimes go alone, because it’s always nice to go out for some fresh air. Somedays, I also bring my own lunch. I’m usually done with work by 5 pm, and that’s when I switch off my laptop, if it’s really urgent and I have to submit something after 5, that’s fine, but normally I finish at 5. Every day is not the same, and each day presents a new opportunity to challenge myself within my role and my department.
Do you have any final thoughts that you would like to mention?
In the beginning, I did find it a bit strange to come back to UCR not as a student but as a colleague. For the first few months, I found it a bit challenging to call my professors by their first name but it was nice to know them from a different perspective. I do really like it here, and all my colleagues are caring and helped me a lot when I first moved. Also being part of the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion committee, I hope to see a future where UCR is even more diverse and how this can make the place a much better environment for everyone involved. So yeah, I really like it here and I’m hoping to experience more years at UCR!