Our blog entry this week comes from Charlotte Keen, a student at the University of Bath. She provides a great insight into the benefits of your student union, and how to make the most of the SU alongside you academic study.
When choosing a university, few prospective students consider how their Students’ Union, or SU, will affect their life. I mean, it’s just a place to drink right? Wrong. So wrong.
Unfortunately, these days a degree is not enough to get you a job. Employers expect you to have some useful work experience under your belt by the time you graduate. For me, this was where the Union came in – as a platform for me to make myself much more employable, whilst having a lot of fun. I study at the University of Bath where, as well as having all kinds of SU sports, there is a SU society for almost everything: from break dance to gender equality to curry appreciation. Being a member of any of the sports or socs is a great way to meet people, have fun and make yourself seem more well-rounded to employers.
Additionally you can consider running to be a committee member. Every sport and soc is managed by committee of students. Roles tend to include things like president (who runs the show), treasurer (who handles the money), social sec (who plans the parties) and lots more. These are great opportunities to build and develop key skills, increase that crucial portfolio of work experience and have a laugh. For example, if you are considering a career in finance or economics you could get some good experience being a treasurer. If you want to go into events or operations, social secretary is a perfect starting role.
I am the marketing director on the committee for Enactus Bath – part of a global, non-profit community of student, academic and business leaders committed to using entrepreneurship to make positive changes in the world. We have projects that make a real difference in the community; we help ex- alcoholics and drug users to reintegrate in to society, we help unqualified young people boost their employability, we help small business owners to grow their business and we work with a group of Ugandan women to create a sustainable fashion business for them. I have gained so much experience to talk about on my CV and in interviews, but more importantly was able to make a difference and meet some really great people. On top of that I am part of arts and dance groups where I have made lots of creative friends and released some stress after a long day.
Another incredible opportunity for me was organising all of Freshers’ Week 2013. I was employed by the union, along with 2 others, to spend a summer planning the induction for thousands of new students. This meant creating themes and marketing materials, getting acts, organising logistics, recruiting a team of 350 volunteers and much, much more. The experience was so much fun, incredibly demanding and invaluable in terms of career opportunities.
For me, the best thing about University is how you can combine becoming more qualified with having a great time. Your SU is the perfect place to do this. As well as this, your union can offer some of the best parties in town and extensive advice and support services. If I were you, when you’re deciding which course to do and which uni to go to, have a look at what the SU offers too. Picking a university with a good union made such a great impact on my university life.