Internship with digital communications – Mhari Nimmo

Mhari Nimmo completed a four-week internship with the digital communications team. You can read about her experience in her own words below.


Four weeks ago, a month seemed like an awfully long time – but as everyone knows, time likes to go faster when it’s summer, and unfortunately the end of my internship within the digital communications team is nearly here.

My internship focused on the new University news website, which launched in June 2018. The new WordPress site offers greater flexibility and will make publishing University news easier and faster. However, when the news stories from the old webpages were migrated to new site they didn’t have any WordPress categories or tags attached to them.

And these are important – some of the new website’s best features are its predictive search bar and its ability to group related content, functions that only work if the content has been tagged and categorised correctly. This meant that someone had to go through the news archive to read, categorise and tag all of the migrated content, and, over the course of its 600-year history, St Andrews has accrued a rather large archive.

Thankfully, the internet is not quite as old as the University, with the online archive only dating back to the early 2000s. This was significantly less daunting than 1413, despite being – by digital standards – just as mediaeval.

Indeed, the news tagging project has probably been the closest I’ll ever come to actual time travel, offering snapshots of St Andrews throughout the past eighteen years. They’ve certainly been eventful: the first degrees in computing were born; researchers have tracked the effects of climate change and human activity on our environment, from porpoise populations to plastic; marine archaeologists have found and studied historic shipwrecks; scientists have revolutionised lasers; the University threw a 600th birthday party that lasted for three years; awards were won; lectures were lectured; graduation ceremony after graduation ceremony passed; someone even invented an invisibility cloak (which is why I’m not completely giving up hope on the time travel thing just yet).

In addition to tagging and categorising the news content, I also had the opportunity to learn about Google Analytics and usability testing from Maria. This allowed me to write reports about how the new website was performing regarding functionality and web traffic, which has been a refreshing change from my usual English essays.

The digital communications office has a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and I’ve been made to feel nothing but welcome by the rest of the team. During my time here, I’ve really appreciated the group-focused approach to tackling projects. Every morning the team do stand-up, where everyone gets together to recap the previous day’s work and summarise their tasks for the day. This was a great way to stay updated on the work that the rest of the team were doing and ask any questions. I also got to sit-in on the team’s retrospective about graduation, which was an interesting insight into how they continually review and work to improve the projects they undertake.

It’s been an amazing four weeks working on the news project and reading over a decade’s worth of St Andrews history. I’ve learned new digital content skills that will be an asset to my CV and developed a new appreciation for the importance of maintaining the University’s website and communications. I’m grateful to the digital communications team for providing me with such an interesting and helpful internship – it’s been lovely to work with you all!

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