Information Services

From student to staff and back again: learning is for life in the ISG department

Part of an ongoing series introducing student-staff success stories - get to know our newest student staff and hear from individuals in the ISG who have previously benefited from placement schemes and part-time work.

The University’s primary ‘customers’ are undoubtedly students. Meeting and exceeding the expectations of these students is what Alain Forrester, Acting Service Team Leader, describes as the “bread and butter” of the work carried out by the Information Services Group (ISG).  

When hiring a student for a fixed-term placement role or part-time student role, Alain explains that not only is it beneficial for ensuring that specific work is completed – but the unique insight students can offer into the end-user experience additionally makes them “invaluable” as employees.  

Alain himself came to work in the ISG in 2012, on a one-year placement as part of his degree in Business Information Systems at Edinburgh Napier University. Shortly after graduating, Alain was interviewed and hired by the same Service team members he had worked alongside just a year before. More than ten years later, he now balances two roles as Acting Service Team Leader and Service Manager. Recently encouraged by his colleagues to continue developing his career, Alain was nominated to attend the The Edinburgh Manager programme. This intensive training course is designed to teach management techniques and encourage a community of leaders, confident in their ability to line manage colleagues.  

As a workplace with a huge variety of learning opportunities like this, the University is an ideal workplace for students, and ‘student-minded' who don’t view the end of a university course as the end of their learning potential. 

Meet some of our newest student staff 

Cerys Jenkins, Digital Skills & Training, Digital Skills Trainer - Coding Intern 

Cerys Jenkins

Cerys is in her second year of studying a BSc in Cognitive Science at the University of Edinburgh and applied for the Coding Intern role because she is passionate about making coding more accessible to everyone.  

“I was born in Hong Kong and moved to London about 8 years ago. I came to Edinburgh 2 years ago to begin my bachelors degree and am still adjusting to the cold weather. Outside of work and study, I enjoy playing volleyball and play for the university’s women’s team.” 

In her role, Cerys has delivered a Python vs R webinar and runs a coding club once every 3 weeks. This involves teaching complete beginners how to code, answering any questions they may have and helping with projects.  

Aside from her mission to convince everyone that coding isn’t an exclusive skill and is something everyone can learn, Cerys hopes to explore more of Scotland and the highlands this year. 

Zohra O’Doherty, Applications Services Management, SharePoint Solutions Assistant

Zohra O'

Zohra is in her final year of an MA Hons Social Policy and Sociology at the University of Edinburgh. Before starting this undergraduate degree, Zohra had years of experience working as a Project Manager and Business Manager in Retail IT. Since starting her degree in 2019, she has been working part-time as a SharePoint Solutions Assistant within Service Management for the ISG. Zohra was excited to put her experience to use in a role that would continue teaching her new skills, so was delighted to discover the support available to students seeking employment opportunities through the University and the Student Association. 

“I am a mature student from Ireland […] Having had to discontinue my first attempt at university when I was younger in the wake of the financial crisis, it was always my dream to return to obtain a degree.” 

The SharePoint Solutions Service specialise in online collaboration and document management. In her role, Zohra assists with a wide range of tasks and projects including building new SharePoint sites, testing new services, authoring content and developing training guides.  

“The ability to work part-time during the semester and full-time during the summer is a great part of the job, and as a student at the University, I have often been able to provide useful insight and feedback for many of our projects in ISG […] I highly recommend the student employment opportunities in ISG at the University of Edinburgh.” 

Neha Oka, Business School, Reporting Analyst 

Neha Oka

Neha is in the second semester of an MSc Global Strategy and Sustainability programme at the University of Edinburgh. As someone who enjoys translating data into visual reports and eager to meet new people during her time in Edinburgh, the reporting analyst role was ideal for Zohra. 

“I'm originally from India but I've lived in Abu Dhabi, UAE until high school. I love going out on walks and hiking every once in a while. I am also a big foodie so I love to try out new cafes and restaurants around the city.” 

Neha’s role involves creating interactive dashboards to illustrate data in a visual and intuitive form for different stakeholders. She works closely with people from various departments to gain an understanding of their requirements, then creates customized reports for their team. 

Alongside her work and study, Neha enjoys exploring the city and regularly walks up Calton Hill to watch the sunset with a coffee when the weather permits. She also hopes to set some personal fitness and habit-building goals before completing a week-long trek in the Himalayas later in the year

Rebekah Day, IS Applications Directorate, Staff Journalist

Rebekah Day

Rebekah is studying an MSc Medieval History part-time at the University of Edinburgh. With previous experience studying journalism and years working as a marketing and communications executive, Rebekah was eager to fund her studies with part-time work in a role that would use her existing skills. 

“I am originally from Australia and have loved living in the UK for the past 8 years. I’m finally pursuing my dream of studying history and Edinburgh is the perfect city for it. I also love that there is always live music and comedy happening here.” 

Her role as a journalist primarily involves writing articles when project managers achieve milestones in their work delivering IT services across the University. She also shares other feel-good and newsworthy updates (this very article being an example) on the news page, and particularly likes to write feature pieces which highlight talented individuals working in the department. 

In addition to work and study, Rebekah is the president of a student society that host weekly seminars from history students and organises day trips to historic sites. She regularly takes her ginger cat Toulouse for walks on a leash around Lochend park and loves to spend time browsing the second-hand bookshops near Argyle House and in the Grassmarket. 

Are you a student working in the ISG? Or a staff member who has worked with student staff?  We would love to hear about your experiences, get in touch with the ISG staff journalist: