By Avery Klauke, Undergraduate Library Research Fellow, 2023-2024

With my time as a Berkeley student winding down, I wanted to reflect on the past year and my undergraduate experience. 

Throughout the past year, the overarching theme for the research fellows was to take initiative in the projects that interested us. For me, co-teaching Research 101 workshops was high on my priority list, as I saw this as one of the best opportunities to engage with as many students as possible. I recognized that the importance of these workshops lay in their ability to provide insight into the library system while also providing students with an open forum to ask questions. Additionally, the research fellows met with various librarians to provide a student perspective on library spaces to make them more welcoming and accessible. In essence, my goal for this year was to contribute, in any capacity, to the libraries and the general Berkeley community.

While writing these reflections, I often focus on what we research fellows have contributed, but I also wanted to highlight how Berkeley (and by extension this position) has given back to me.

My experience started the same as everyone else’s, as my freshman year at Berkeley was akin to throwing me into flaming chaos. General confusion mixed with lots of looming pandemic anxiety is how I would describe it. People always say college is the best time of your life or it’s where you ‘find yourself,’ (however you choose to take that) but unsurprisingly, no one tells you where to start. And as someone who thrives off consistency, finding my “niche” here was important.

Becoming a research fellow gave me consistency that I had never experienced before. It was similar to an extended group project, but unlike some randomized assignments in those required lower-level classes, everyone contributed consistently. Where I would draw a blank after a student’s question, the other fellows could offer their insight; likewise, I stepped up in their moments of need. To be expected, being a research fellow helped me hone my ability to work with and for others (something I’ve learned is a skill not everyone possesses). But it also taught me little lessons like how to improvise, adapt, and not focus on something so much that I lose sight of the big picture. I anticipate using these skills frequently as I leave the past 18 years of schooling behind.