Why you should join a student society?
Becoming involved in and eventually joining the committee of a student society, STAR (Student Action for Refugees), was one of the best decisions I have made at university. The University of Sheffield has an overwhelming number of societies, from the Tea Society (where you get to drink tea) to GraphCAD (where you learn how to use AutoCAD). You’re bound to find something you want to be part of, and if not you only need 3-4 members to start your own society.
Here are some of the reasons I think everyone should get involved in a student society.
Unexpected CV Boosters
When I joined STAR my CV and the skills I could put down were far from my mind. It’s only now, looking back, that I can see how beneficial it was to my skill set.
If you’ve gone out and looked for a society that does something you love, you’ve already shown initiative. Get involved on the committee and you’ve taken that a step further,
A society committee is a great place to demonstrate proactivity. A few months ago, Sam Webster, social secretary for Mental Health Matters (MHM) got in touch with lots of societies, pitched his idea for a charity ball and got the ball rolling. We’re now less than two weeks away from the University of Sheffield’s first ever charity ball.
I’m not the most outgoing of people and I’m often shy when I meet new people. But through STAR I discovered a different side of myself – one that likes interacting with people.
STAR launched its Equal Access to Education campaign the year I joined the committee. The campaign involved raising awareness – we had to do lecture shout-outs, we held bake sales, we held info evenings – at the heart of it all was convincing people of the legitimacy of our campaign and getting enough support.
I really enjoyed talking to people, understanding their position and convincing them of the importance of our campaign. The University of Sheffield now offers 5 full scholarships to Asylum seekers and Refugees as opposed to 0 in 2014.
Team Work and Leadership.
As a society, you’re likely to have events, right from socials to Poptarts to organising the event that other societies plan their own socials to! None of these events would happen without the society committee members working together. So being on a society committee gets a lot of team work experience under your belt.
A society committee, with its resources and links with other societies gives you an unparalleled platform for making your own idea happen where you have nothing to lose.
Like Sam and the Charity Ball – a great example of proactivity and leadership!
Thinking about what you gained from being on a committee can reveal that you’ve developed any number of unexpected skills; like team work, flexibility problem solving, communication, organisation, leadership, time management and networking. The best thing that you’ll get from being on a committee (and reflecting on your experience) is confidence. You’re guaranteed to develop as a person being on a committee and it will give you more confidence in yourself and what you can achieve.
Step outside your comfort Zone
Once I got involved with STAR I tried out lots of things that I would never have otherwise.
- I got involved (in however small a role) in organising a successful range of music nights – Refugee Rhythms. Me! Who would ever have expected that! I owe that experience completely to STAR
- I slept out, under the Students’ Union concourse, more than once.
The annual sleep out under the students’ union concourse is one of our major events, raising awareness about the reality of being an asylum seeker or refugee. Doing it once might seem uncomfortable but thinking about people who go sleep out every night, with no choice, really helps puts things into perspective.
- I thought of and put on my own event (and we’re organising part 2).
I love food and I think food is the one thing everyone has in common (no matter where they’re from). So STAR organised a food evening, inviting local asylum seekers, refugees and anyone who was willing to bring a dish from where they came from.
Get Dissertation Inspiration?!
Being part of a society is a great way to achieve a bit of balance in your life at university and keep you from only seeing people at the library. But being part of a society can be great for the academic sides of your life too.
Being part of a society (admittedly some more than others) gives you a taste of the real world. You’ll interact with people from completely different walks of life to yours. You’re also likely to be interested in what your society does (why else would you pick it!)
As members of STAR we interact with local asylum seekers and refugees. This has given a number of members inspiration for great dissertations. Being passionate about what you’re studying and researching is always a good idea.
Above all else, student societies are social. It is tempting to get absorbed into your books and essays and deadlines and turn into a hermit that is only ever sighted at the library. Being part of a society is a great way to avoid that from being your reality.
Through STAR I have made friends for life with people I would never have come across otherwise.
P.S. If you liked the sound of Refugee Rhythms or the Charity Ball, here’s the links
Refugee Rhythms – https://www.facebook.com/events/1000469820014223/
Charity Ball – https://www.facebook.com/events/1202668236429044/