Guest Blog: David Chandler – President, UOL Engineering Society
I have been asked by Career Geek Blog to write about getting involved with societies at university. This year I am not only completing my Master’s degree in Engineering, but I am also acting as President of the subject society. Balancing the demands of my degree with this commitment may seem like a daunting task, and indeed there have been points so far when I have thought that I had bitten off more than I could chew. However, the benefits definitely outweigh any losses, particularly when it comes to developing some of the key skills that employers are looking for.
The Engineering Society at Leicester is a fairly small society, though we have grown recently with the general rise in student numbers, to around 250 paid members. Our main activities are social events, such as meals and nights out, but we also do academic-related trips and talks, as well as organise football and cricket teams. All these activities provide the Engineering students with ways to get to know one another and develop socially outside of the course, and above all, to have some fun! So far this year, we have had excellent support from both the Student’s Union and the Engineering department, who have subsidised expenses for the academic events we have organised.
So, why did I decide to get so involved with this society at this point of my time at university? Well, I had been a member since my first year and participated in many events. Last year I actually became a member of the society committee as a Third Year representative. When the opportunity to put myself forward to be President came up, I decided to take it – partly because I felt it was about time I got involved with something outside of my degree that required some real responsibility. Also, I was good friends with the outgoing President, who was graduating, and I felt I had some good ideas to build up on the great work she had done. The position was contested, and I won a tight vote against another strong candidate for the role.
So, has this involvement improved my career prospects in any way? Well, as you would imagine, Society President is a position with quite a bit of responsibility. My role includes many aspects of the society, working with the rest of the committee to organise events, publicise them and decide what more we can do to enhance the student experience for everyone involved. All this gives evidence of many of the ‘soft’ skills employers want to see, such as team working, communication and organisation.
My time management skills have really been put to the test this year, as I am busy enough with my Master’s year without the society responsibilities.
To finish off, I would definitely recommend putting your time at university to good use by getting involved with a society or a club. The student environment is unique, in the sense that you probably would not find yourself anywhere with so many of your peers at any other time in your life. Therefore, it is a fantastic opportunity to meet people with similar interests and get involved with things you are passionate about. At the same time, you can use these activities as examples to demonstrate your transferable skills to employers, and show them that you are a well-rounded individual who is willing to get involved with things.
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