Yehosef Thomas, 22, says he’s “kind of a nerd who can spend a whole Saturday happily sitting in the library with a book,” and whose strong suits include reading and writing.
But working at University Libraries is helping the senior history major polish some other meaningful skills that will help launch his future career. His intention, says the Cleveland-area native, is to practice law and work in public policy.
For the past two academic years, Thomas’s job at the Libraries has sharpened his public speaking skills and his ability to engage with a group as he makes (lots of) presentations about research skills to other students. University Libraries’ series of one-hour programs called A+ Research Presentations helps students grasp the research process and covers topics such as developing a research question, writing, selecting sources, critical thinking and citing. Last semester alone, Thomas made presentations to well over 600 Ohio State students.
“The public speaking aspect is what really attracted me to the job,” he says. “It’s kind of a game for me to see how much better I can do with each presentation, and how much more I can engage with the students. Plus, it’s a chance for me to give back, and share information with first- and second-year students.”
It’s also given him some new perspectives … and boosted his creative side.
“Students come from a variety of majors and disciplines, and I have to keep that in mind,” he explains, “so they can apply the research principles to various applications. I’ve learned how to relate the information to non-history majors, non-social science majors, and transfer the subject matter to students in areas like engineering and math. It’s taught me how to answer questions from different perspectives.”
He even developed one of the presentations from scratch when he realized students needed more oomph on the topic of citing. “We were getting so many questions about citing that it prompted me to create a new presentation,” he says.
That kind of initiative and engagement is much appreciated by the University Libraries staff who hired Thomas. “Yehosef is just great – he’s smart and thoughtful and outgoing, and works really hard to keep the students engaged,” says Cheryl Lowry, training and education specialist. “He came to the job with an interest in finding out how people learn, and that attitude is a great fit for us in the Teaching and Learning area.”
The work arrangement also dovetails with the Libraries’ mission of providing purposeful student employment that will help equip Ohio State student workers for lifelong success.
“Here at the Libraries, I think we all strive to give student workers more than just a paycheck,” adds Lowry. “For instance, supervisors are encouraged to enroll their student assistants in our department’s online courses that aim to improve students’ workplace communication skills and information literacy skills. We’re interested in helping them prepare for their next step – career or graduate school or whatever is next for them.”
Thomas, who graduates in May, says working at the Libraries “does not feel like the typical clock-in / clock-out kind of job. I’ve really fostered relationships with the staff; they’ve been very open in helping me see opportunities and feel part of the Teaching and Learning team. It’s different than what I originally thought the job would be. It’s so much more!”