I cannot just study…. I’ve always been like that. In my undergrad at the Ural State Pedagogical University I used to be a sports organiser for my School. Later on I founded the first Student Council followed by Student Theatre for students studying English. I was a class rep when I was doing my Masters degree at Edinburgh University. And now… here we go. I am a research students’ rep at the Glasgow Caledonian University.
Being a student rep is an exciting and challenging experience which involves quite a bit of responsibility. You pretty much take the responsibility for representing the views of all research students. In our university each school should theoretically have at least one rep for research students. But in practice it does not always work out this way. They should represent the views of students on the level of schools’ research committee. The rep for the university is responsible for representing the views of students at the:
- Student Parliament
- Graduate School Board
- National Union of Students
- any other committee and organisations involved in the research students’ agenda
In my opinion, it is a great learning experience, and the opportunity to develop my transferable skills! Here is a list of skills I am personally developing being a students rep:
- Communication skills. I must say I am rubbish at public speaking (especially when it comes to speaking English) but I always try to break the comfort zone, and say what I think. For ex, today I was at the Graduate School Board. I had to speak on current issues in the postgraduate agenda on a university and national level. I was so nervous, and everybody could see my ears blushing))) But who cares? I’ve done it. That’s the main thing. I stand for ‘learning by doing’. Each time I do it I become more confident. Here there is also an issue of communication with different audiences. You have meetings with students, staff developers, supervisors, senior management, national organisations.
- Networking and team working. You meet so many people…. I’ve recently come back from the Postgraduate Conference organised by the National Union of Students. I’ve met so many interesting people from various parts of the country, which I would have never met otherwise. You also constantly learn to be a part of the team working with students. You learn to understand the group dynamics and people behaviour.
- You learn to plan and arrange various events from social to more serious like student elections. I forgot to mention that I am also involved in the Research Students Society, and we organise various events for research students.
- An important aspect of this role is to be able to motivate others. Research students are notorious for being quite reluctant to engage in university activities. However, I believe that you need just to find the right approach to people. That is where you learn to develop your leadership skills. And in this process you should be always guided by the motto: Nothing is impossible!
- You certainly learn multitasking. You just have to! Otherwise, there you will not have time for anything.
- By the way, time is one aspect I am still struggling with 🙂 So my next learning goal – to develop effective time management!
- Mentoring is one of the aspects I really enjoy. No feeling can be more rewarding than to support and encourage people.
- But what other skill can be more transferable than the ability to help other people, and make their life and experience better.
Being a students rep also helps me to understand myself better, discover new things and make three years of my PhD a more meaningful and exciting experience!