Despite plenty of evidence to suggest that they’re wicked, some students go through university life without ever joining a society.
We at Debut love societies and we can’t stop talking about all the benefits they bring to you. But this time, we thought we’d let someone else have a go. So we got 6 society presidents (and a secretary) to talk about what societies did for them, what they learnt and how they improved.
Sonali Gidwani, former Co-President – Warwick Blackout, University of Warwick
“Joining a society exec seems to fill in the gaps where a job experience does not, in some cases. In terms of career skills, leading a society gives you leadership, teamwork and project management skills, and is also a test of your character.
Oftentimes, I have used my extra-curricular roles in job applications as an example of situations where I was challenged, and such roles have given me confidence within the workplace too.
On a personal level, I’ve met fantastic people and worked on causes I really care about. Being on an exec is invaluable in terms of learning to work with people, and finding people you work well with. I met one of my best friends whilst starting up a society, so that for me has been a huge plus.”
Hiran Adhia, former Editor-In-Chief, Warwick Boar, University of Warwick
“Many of the reasons why I didn’t go out of my mind insane or get incredibly bored is because of my involvement in societies. They were fantastic for my development. I felt more confident, I made fantastic friends and I was able to do things that I never would have had enough “experience” to do in the real world.
It is 100 per cent the reason that I am employable now. I made mistakes, learned how to take hard criticism on the chin, and learned that as long as you are having fun, it doesn’t matter about anything else – and in the end, it isn’t the end of the world if it all goes wrong.
At the end of the day, it may have been tough at times but there are so many stories to tell, so many things to remember that I wouldn’t trade those for anything at all.”
Christine Wong, former President – Warwick Glee, University of Warwick
“Being in a society and having responsibility within it was super helpful in teaching me proper teamwork. Having to band together over a group project for the sake of a grade is one thing, but working together for no reward but the success of the society itself is super tough.
It’s like a crash-course in pseudo-office politics, especially if you’re in a society that has a hierarchy of any kind.”
Yuya Takeuchi, former President – UoB Robotics Club, University of Birmingham
“It’s a little like managing a small business. For a club whose stakeholders rely on its performance at competitions, you need to be able to allocate resources to be competitive whilst supporting our new members to learn new skills.
During my time as president I had a supportive and talented bunch of people and without them we would not have enjoyed the same level of success.
As much as our club members have learnt from me, I have learnt many things about finance, project management and got to travel abroad, with some trophies to show for it.”
Elizabeth Hurst, President – Warwick Tap, University of Warwick
“When I was on 3 execs in my second year, it really made me understood what it meant to have commitments and responsibilities, and how to prioritise my time.
Most of all, I learnt how to deal with people, especially my role as a President, and how to be a leader. Having people count on you also keeps you going even when uni life gets tough.”
Andres Linares, Secretary – Vinyl Society, University of Birmingham
“In our day and age where having a degree is more and more common, it’s really worth investing time in getting involved with people around your centre of interest while at uni, both to get a break from studying and to keep in touch with your quirky talent or interest.
We started Vinyl Society a few years back to cater for those who loved collecting interesting music but had to look extra hard to find people who knew where to sniff out good records. We created the space, but it was the members who came together and brought it alive, and I’m proud to see how much our small group adds to their uni experience!”
Zaki Dogliani, Editor-In-Chief – Epigram, University of Bristol
“Previously, I’d never thought of myself as much of a leader. However, being put in charge of a team of more than 60 people meant I had no choice but to try out my leadership skills. They, along with my self-belief, increased immeasurably during the course of the year.
My people skills in general got better. My time management did – there’s no extension when it comes to sending a newspaper off to the printers. So I had to balance my commitments with my studies. Editing Epigram also made me realise how much I liked journalism and that I wanted to enter the industry. I did 18 months ago, when I got my first magazine job.
I’d recommend getting involved in societies and student media products to other people not just because they enhance skills or add to your CV, but because that kind of involvement can also be great fun and help you get to know dozens of nice people you’ll keep in touch with after graduation. Choosing to apply for those roles was the best decision I made at university.”
Feature image courtesy of Unsplash