April 26, 2016, by Grace Pownall
Why Every Student Should Take Part in an Election at University
By Grace Pownall, student blogger
Never mind the United States government elections, or even the SU elections; last semester there was only one presidential race on my mind – the one for CivSoc President. As a civil engineering student and a member of this year’s CivSoc committee I might be a little bit biased, but for me it was an important couple of weeks as I finally decided to campaign for the role of president.
Annually, most societies will be on the look-out to fill a variety of roles; from social secretaries and treasurers to industry reps and publicity officers. Not only will you gain invaluable experience if you get elected – I was the CivSoc Vice President last year – but the campaigning itself can also teach you a lot.
So why should you run, and how can it help to boost your career prospects?
Learn how to sell yourself
In order to run for the position, I had to upload a written manifesto to the SU website and give a brief speech at the CivSoc AGM. I had to think hard about what I wanted to achieve and how I wanted to do it. Most importantly, I needed to make sure that the members voting believed I was the natural choice over the other two candidates.
During my campaign I focused on selling my experience, highlighting what I’d accomplished as Vice President last year. I also spoke about connections I’d worked hard to develop in the Faculty of Engineering, and the Careers and Marketing departments. Being able to sell your experience and achievements is essential for succeeding in interviews, where you have to be able to make an employer believe you’re the best choice for the job.
Nothing like a bit of healthy competition…
2016 is the first year in quite a while that CivSoc has had multiple candidates running for each role. This was incredibly motivating and made the voting week much more exciting.
It was very satisfying to see so many members running and voting in the elections; a sign of the progress the society has made over the year. It also resulted in an entertaining meme war on CivSoc social media with candidates battling for the most hilarious and hideous puns.
Employers love it
Having a position of responsibility on your CV is valuable. By getting involved with a society committee, I’ve gained a treasure trove of personalised experiences that I can draw upon for job interviews and applications. Organisation, leadership, team work and problem-solving? Check, check, check and check!
Throughout the campaign I’ve got to know a lot more civil engineering students from different years. That’s the aim of most course-based societies – to facilitate friendship across the department, so I think we’ve succeeded.
It’s useful to expand your social circles, whether you want to find help with a difficult module, get advice on which modules are the most interesting, or discover insider knowledge about what it’s like to work for different companies on placements.
Taking part in this election has definitely been a rewarding experience. We have a great committee for next year and I’m excited to see what we can achieve together.
Have you taken part in a student election this year? If so, please share your experiences in the comments below. Unsure how to showcase this on your CV? Book an appointment with one of career advisers now.