Get involved with a society committee

Do you want to have fun and make new friends, while developing essential skills for your future career? That is exactly what students have been doing by getting involved with society committees. We have been speaking to some of them about their experiences.

The Guild of Students hosts more than 250 student societies, ranging from large scale groups like Carnival RAG to departmental societies like MathSoc, and if you cannot find something that interests you, you can always set up your own.

Society committeeJoe Cooper, President of the Bad Film Society, decided to start a group after enjoying watching ‘bad films’ with his flatmates in first year: “I wanted to set up one myself, where everyone could feel welcome”. The process of setting up a society is really easy and there is a lot of help from the Guild: it can be as simple as filling in a form and attending a few meetings.

Often students decide to join a student committee because they have had so much fun being a member and have a particular vision for the society. Alex Garrido, Vice-President of the United Nations (UN) Society and Marketing Officer for the Debating Society, wanted to “create more links with United Nation societies in other universities”, inspired by the relationships between other debating groups.

For others, a society positon may fit well with their career goal. Shona Smith, RAG Raid Co-ordinator for Carnival RAG, joined the committee as Communications Officer: “I want to go into Sport Communications so it was good preparation. This year I ran for RAG Raid Co-ordinator, which has given me a different perspective on how events are organised”. The experience Shona has gained from Carnival RAG has led to her being on the National Student Fundraising Association (NSFA) committee as Marketing and Communications Officer.

Even if you do not have a particular career goal in mind, being part of a committee develops essential skills including teamwork, innovation, problem-solving, time-management, leadership and delegation. It’s also a great way to develop your social skills. Ed Wong, President of MathSoc and Treasurer of Carnival RAG reflected, “Before university I didn’t really know how to talk to people. Being on a committee has developed my networking skills and given me the confidence to host events.”

Being on a society committee can also bring a sense of achievement. Nicky Woods, President of VegSoc said, “I really enjoy when we hold a big event and people have a really good time. You see people making friends, which is really nice.”

The students we spoke to also have a wealth of advice for anyone thinking of joining a society committee. Top of the list was to seize the opportunity. Shona said, “Find a society that you are interested in and just go for it; whether it be something to do with your course, something to do with an interest you have or something completely new.” Nicky added: “If you have a passion for something it is amazing. It’s really good in terms of the experiences you have and the people you meet.”

It’s also really important that you are organised. Joe said, “Work out the venues early. At the Guild you have to give two weeks’ notice if you want to do a film screening.”  Alex added, “Think about your workload and how it may change – you need to work out how you will fit your society commitments around your degree, not the other way round.”

This time of year most societies are starting to elect new committees, if you are planning for running for a positon now or in the future Alex recommends that you “speak to the person who is currently doing the role you would like to run for, so you have an understanding of what it involves”. Ed and Shona said, “It’s important that you get involved with the society – attend as many events as you can and help out. You will show the committee you can do it and you will have a lot to talk about it at the AGM.”

To find out more about the societies mentioned and to discover other groups please visit the society pages on the Guild website.

A special thank you to: