Student societies: The ins and outs
Student Societies by Adam Scotti
As you wave your way through the thousands of students that conglomerate round the union on Fresher’s Week, you’ll walk past stall upon stall of student societies, all eagerly touting for a nano second of your attention...Welcome to Student Society sign-ups, complete with pens, lollipops and stamped plastic bags full of supposed ‘goodies’, you’ll have your work cut out trying to make sense of it all, first time round...First things first, don’t bother signing up (and parting with your coins) to any given society, just for the sake of it. The best thing to do is go to the Student Union on the first day of the fair, to get a feel for the place and also find out what’s on offer, how much your membership may cost (i.e. the Photography Society may require you to foot the photo printing bill) and whether or not it’s something worth doing over the course of the year. Sure, joining the Chocoholic Society is a must for anyone who’s willing to give up their right arm for some Cadbury Buttons but don’t be tempted to join all societies as the representatives give you doe eyes, as you may never go - and some societies may have to turn down latecomers, due to overbooking.
Instead, why not try and make a list of what you’d like to pursue or take up at university. Sports, Drama, English Poetry, Cooking, Business, Languages, Music, Debate...You name it, your university will most probably have thought of it. Most students choose their societies based on their interests, but you could also look at this as a career-building step; by joining entrepreneurial or news related societies, for example, you can get a taste of what your career life might be like, without having to sign off a couple of months in the summer to bag an internship. Alternatively, thanks to your support of X society, you may subsequently network with recruiters, thus helping you get a step on the ladder.
Student societies also mingle with their counterparts across universities - as such, you may find yourself in a Life Drawing class in Leeds, even though you’ve come from Sussex; or taking to the slopes in the Alps, with some Frenchies. Aside from the fact you’ll be joining up to an activity or way of life you enjoy, you may also find that it makes for a great ice-breaker, at home or abroad. One of my friends, Tim, had joined the Sports Society back home, only to find himself digging into some tapas with his new-found Spanish mates, met through his interests rather than his work experience.
University societies are your chance to share your interests with like-minded people, helping you gain some valuable friends in the process. I joined the Politics and Skiing societies, and found myself sharing a weekly pint with guys I’d met through these activities throughout university, way into my graduate life!
In the unlikely (yet unbelievably gratifying) chance that your Student Union has not got what you were after, you could create a society of your own - who knows, there might be more followers than you would think, and it’s a great way to meet new faces with similar interests to yours. An added bonus is that it looks great on your CV - whether you’re the president, treasurer or one of the society’s student representatives.
University is your chance to test the waters and try out different things, all pretty cheaply and with some great people. You may not get on with everyone on the society, yet you’re bound to meet some real keepers and develop your hobbies into passions, if not careers. We’ve all heard about getting started early in that department, so why not casually whilst at university. You’d be mad not to sign up for that.
Useful student websites:
Student Beans The Student Room Popular international student societies:
AEGEE - European Students Forum AIESEC - The International Platform for Young People to Explore and Develop their Potential BEST - Board of European Students of Technology Delft Management Society - Society linking students to the corporate world Erasmus Student Network IAESTE - The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience IFMSA - The International Federation of Medical Students' Associations ISHA - The International Students of History Association OBESSU - Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions SIFE - Business leaders and students working together BBNM - Global Student Network for Collaboration with the Business World