I believe it is safe to say that when the majority of people think of the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL), they think technical. They likely envision employees with an engineering or computer science discipline. This was my initial interpretation.
I found myself in my freshman year of college wondering what I could find for a job. I was working for a supermarket, but wanted to take on a new challenge; one that did not involve "paper or plastic." A friend and now present day colleague of mine suggested that I look into the UNH-IOL. I thought there was simply no way I could fit into an organization of such high-technical caliber. I was a business major at the time with a very basic computer knowledge skill set. Nonetheless, I went ahead and applied for a Student Technician position. A couple of weeks later, I was called in for an interview. Initially, I was being considered for a testing position. Then, to my surprise, my soon-to-be boss suggested that I would be a good fit in the Communications Department. Without hesitation I accepted the offer.
I began working in the middle of the UNH-IOL's DSL Consortium where I was surrounded by engineers. To be honest, I felt very out of place, yet determined to fit in. As time progressed, I made the effort to become familiar with the different technologies at the lab and I involved myself in as many areas as possible.
I started small, by editing and re-designing brochure templates. As I became familiar with the lab, I was able to integrate myself into other tasks. I learned how to edit our website, manage social media accounts, and more. About two years ago I was offered the opportunity to shadow the present time Academic Coordinator, so that I may eventually fill her position when she moved on. I was honored to be trusted with this venture. I was able to manage the UNH-IOL's High School Summer Internship Program and with this I was trusted with the responsibility of recruiting students and allocating funding for the program. From this, I was given the chance to become a leader and learn skills necessary to become an effective manager.
I can take away a great deal from my experiences at the UNH-IOL when I move on. Most importantly, I have learned how to interact with senior level management and external individuals and have become a young professional. In my time spent at the UNH-IOL, I have improved how I craft my e-mails and the way I communicate with others. The lab has truly helped me to grow, even with my lack of technical roots. The work you put into the UNH-IOL is a true reflection of what you will get back from it.
Today, I am the UNH-IOL's Academic and Marketing Coordinator. Come the month of May I will be graduating with my B.S. in Health Management and Policy and as I begin job searching to obtain a position in my field, I know I will be leaving with a skill set that I could not have obtained working anywhere else. Even if you are not a tech-savvy individual, there still may be a place for you inside of UNH's hidden gem.
Pamela Woodland, Academic and Marketing Coordinator