I’ve just finished week 3 of my time at UCCF: The Christian Unions. The time has gone really quickly, but I felt like I’ve been able to accomplish a lot. Most of my input into the project has been completed now, the initial writings stages are well under way, and some testing has already been commissioned. However, not everything went exactly as per the original plan (as is the nature of project management). Whilst we originally expected all of the content to be ready and sent to print within the 4 weeks I was working there, that has turned out to be wildly wrong, and the plan is now to send it to print in November!
Even though it didn’t quite go as planned, the constantly moving timeline has helped me to learn a lot about how project management works, and the difficulties that come from trying to balance all the areas of cost, risk and timings. The main reason that caused the production date to be put back so much was that there was limited availability of people to do the different sections of the project. This was particularly prevalent in the charity sector, as to keep costs low, they try where possible to ask volunteers to do different tasks, but over the summer many go away on holiday so it’s harder to organise things.
With this new timeline in place, most of the project is set in motion, so I’ve had a bit of spare time to work in some other areas. One of these was that I was given access to the online database (which is pretty large, with over 20’000 users), and given the task of producing a variety of summary statistics, such as gender break downs of various types of users, and sign up rates per year. This was quite interesting, as I was able to use some of the programming and computing based skills that I’d learned during my degree, and apply that to writing scripts to query the database effectively to pull out the results I needed. I managed to produce some figures that were particularly useful for the staff, for example how many users would attend the same annual conference over two, or three consecutive years, which effects how they structure the event to keep the interest of returning students.
Another thing that I’ve been able to do, which I found fascinating, was to have a dig around in the archives that they hold in the office. The job was to begin to catalogue some of the items they have, but to also have a look at answering a couple specific questions that people had asked. Whilst doing this, I managed to find a ‘minute book’ from the Christian Union at Imperial containing information from a whole load of meetings dating all the way back to 1896, when it was founded. It was pretty exciting to have a chance to read some of the history of Imperial from the perspective of a group of students all the way back in the Victorian era, and was an interesting way to productively use my time between tasks on my main project.
On to my last week now, I can’t believe it’s going to be over so quickly!
Opinions expressed in this blog post are my own, and do not necessarily represent that of UCCF: The Christian Unions or of Imperial College London