March 7, 2018, by Grace Pownall
Key Skills I’ve Learned as a Society President
By Grace Pownall, final year, studying civil engineering
After two years on the committee for the civil engineering society, including one as president, the time has come for me to hang up my hard hat and steel-toe-capped boots. Being on a society committee has been big part of my day-to-day life, and a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Not only has it been great fun, but I’ve gained invaluable skills along the way.
Building my confidence
At the beginning of university, I could never have imagined myself doing the things required to run a society. From phoning up companies to negotiating sponsorship deals, and talking in front of groups of parents and students on open days, teenage-me was far too shy to do those things.
However, as progressed from member to president, my confidence grew and grew. Jumping in the deep-end of the pool of responsibility was a great learning experience. I also got to do it with lots of other like-minded students.
Developing management and leadership skills
Being responsible for a society of seven committee members was very daunting at the beginning. Honestly, I had no clue what I was doing! Fortunately, my fellow committee members were as passionate about running a successful society as I was, so together we learned together to do just that. We:
- increased membership by over 10%,
- participated in a Varsity sports day in Sheffield – transporting 30 students there and back after a night out was the true test!
- organised site visits and a trip to London,
- and of course, our favourite – annual socials
I’ll admit that I can be both a perfectionist and a bit of a control-freak, but being president forced me to delegate tasks. I learned a lot about sharing responsibilities, so I now have lots of team working examples to talk about in many job interviews to come.
While detailed planning is required for a successful event, students are as unpredictable as the weather, or traffic. Combine all three things, and a whole range of issues can arise. As President, I realised that things will never go to quite to plan. Sometimes it’s better to go with the flow and adapt to the changing situation, rather than worrying and over-planning.
I’ve had a great time interacting with students from my course, and working hard with friends on the committee. Seeing people enjoy themselves at events, and making friends from different years and countries made the hard work worth it. I encourage anyone thinking about getting involved with a society committee to go for it.
Interested in applying for a post? Election season is now! It is closing soon though, so you have about two and half weeks left to apply. Find information about each society here, and consult this directory to browse every ongoing election. One more thing: you must be a member of a group to be eligible to stand in their elections.