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A day in the life of...Carol Prior, Manager of the Student Services Helpdesk

Carol Prior

Carol Prior, Manager of the Student Services Helpdesk

'I love being involved with students and can not imagine working in anything other than a student-facing role.'

Carol Prior has worked for the University for 36 years. She is currently the Manager of the Helpdesk in the Student Services Centre, heading a team of four dedicated student advisers. She became Warden of Sibly Hall in October last year after 22 years renting a flat and ‘helping out sometimes' in St Patrick's Hall.

What was your first role at the University?

My first job was to send out University prospectuses, printing the labels on a manual typewriter, a very junior role. I joined at about the same time that a new ‘in house' computerised system for student record keeping had been introduced - until then all records were kept on record cards by hand. My interest in the ‘new fangled computer things' helped me gain promotion and I began to very slowly work my way up the then Registrar's Department and eventually to where I am now within Student Services but all the while updating the Student Record and dealing with students

You have been closely involved with students for a very long time then?

Absolutely, I love being involved with students and can not imagine working in anything other than a student-facing role. My job has evolved a great deal from the early days, however. Student numbers have increased by 30% since I began, and records are now maintained through the RISIS system.  Of course with the introduction of the Carrington Building, the Helpdesk and specialist roles within Student Services we are moving towards a one-stop-shop for all students' needs.

As Leader of the Help Desk Team, can you describe a typical working day?

Not easily! A typical day will vary throughout the term.

Since I became Warden of Sibly Hall, I now begin the day by checking the evening's security report for the Group. If I am on the rota to start early, I begin at the Student Services Helpdesk at 8.45am. The number of enquiries we handle daily can vary. In the first two weeks of the autumn term, for example, my team and I will see around 2,500 students. A lot of the students will be international, in the country for the first time and we take great pride in making them feel welcome - helping them with their finance, visas, anything that they need really.

Then there's the email box to sort out and managerial duties as well as attending meetings....

Your role as Warden of Sibly Hall must mean that you are never really off duty?

I like to think that I am there for the students in Hall at any time.  I really enjoy my Warden's role and once again it means that I have a lot of interaction with students that I find very rewarding.  I have one formal ‘on-call' evening each week, I hold a drop in surgery two evenings each week and I am on call two weekends of every Term.

I also have a mentoring role to a Wardens' Assistant as well as assisting in CSTD training to Personal Tutors and as Warden I did attend the local Neighbourhood Action Group once.

You have so much experience of the University, are there any highlights that stand out?

The University's creation of a dedicated student services building was, for me, a really innovative move forward in delivering an excellent student experience. It was done in a very consultative way. Members of the student services teams were consulted throughout the construction process and I am very proud to say that we are now held up as an exemplar of best practice to other universities.

In the future, I am really looking forward to developing even further our online helpdesk. The University purchased the Helpdesk software three years ago and during the intervening period we have developed it into an excellent, fit for purpose, product that is now being sold across the world.  We have benefited from this collaboration in that all new pieces of software are free for us - the biggest one being a Diary booking component that I am hoping will be introduced this year across the University.

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