Madi Drake applied for a position as a University Libraries student employee because it seemed like a natural fit.
“I initially wanted to work for the Libraries because I have always been fond of books and reading,” says the third-year Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies major. “I thought it would be a great place to hang out and be helpful for finding resources with ease.”
Drake would soon learn that her job would require her to develop a strong set of leadership and problem-solving skills.
“The thing about this job is that it provides you with new challenges every day, which most of the time you are not expecting,” says Drake.
“Recently, our team started a shifting project on the 8th floor of Thompson Library in order to create space for a growing collection. As one of the supervisors for the office, I had to confer with the other supervisors to determine the amount of space to leave in order to preserve enough space to make a difference,” says Drake. “The project was going well, until I noticed big holes in the spacing on previously completed shelves. Looking through many sections, I saw that the problem was causing a significant amount of space lost, which would become crucial towards the end of the floor.”
“As the only supervisor present, I had to tell the other student employees to stop and had to inform them of the problem,” says Drake. “Many students were frustrated that I wanted to restart the process from where the mistakes began, but I knew the importance of the space we had lost.”
Drake decided that as the one who discovered the problem, it was her responsibility to take the lead on the project. Eventually, she was able to correct the issue with the help of her team, clearing space for an additional 200 volumes.
“[The experience] was challenging, because I knew I would have to tell the other workers something that would frustrate them, and I had to find the best way to deliver the news to them,” says Drake, “but from this, I determined that I am able to handle challenges that are thrown at me with no warning.”
While Drake had been worried about the reactions of her team members to her instructions, she found instead that her decisions and leadership had earned their respect.
“A few of my co-workers complimented me on the way I dealt with the situation and how they are glad that I was promoted to supervisor,” says Drake. “This is a moment that I will remember, even after I leave Thompson Library, because of the validation their comments provided me and the way my actions proved my worth as a supervisor.”
Drake’s demonstrated leadership and compassion in a challenging situation led to her selection as one of five recipients of the inaugural University Libraries Student Employee Scholarship, which recognizes student employees who demonstrate exceptional creativity, originality and enthusiasm in their work.
“[This scholarship] gives me resources that I didn't have before and will allow me to grow academically and professionally,” says Drake.