Manchester Metropolitan University Students' Union
 

Being a Student Officer – pros and cons

Thursday 30-01-2020 - 12:08

Student Officers are the voice of students at Manchester Met – but what does that actually mean and what does it involve day-to-day?

Well, you could be working on anything from political campaigns about student issues, to sitting on project boards and liaising with key university contacts to make changes with the University. The job is so empowering and rewarding, but I’m not going to lie, it’s not always easy.

What’s not so great?

I loved my job as President and I was happy to put the time in because I felt that the work I did made an actual difference to students' lives. But I don’t want to lie to you, it’s not all smiles, rainbows and rugby matches. Let me tell you about the tricky stuff before we get to the good stuff:

+ Being held accountable is scary

You’re representing 38,000 students at Manchester Met and a good percentage of those will have an opinion on your work. Justifying what you’re doing all the time can be difficult, but it’s a necessary part of the job. These people trusted you enough to vote you in, so you owe it to them to be completely transparent.

+ There can be an incredible amount of reading

Meeting notes, papers, policy docs – you get through a lot of reading as an officer. If you’re someone who struggles with this, don’t be put off, you get the support you need to make it manageable.

+ Everyone will want a piece of you

Learning how to say no can be a challenge, but it is possible. Something unexpected will come up in the middle of a busy day and you just have to keep reminding yourself that you need to prioritise because what you’re doing will make positive change.

+ Appeals panels can be tough

You’re going to sit on appeals panels, and it can be difficult to remove your emotions from the cases you’re looking at. There will be times when you simply cannot help the student, and the worst-case outcome is the only possible outcome. Remember, don’t lose sight of the fact you are always trying your best for other students.

+ It can get tiring

Whilst no one is holding you hostage – I know that the work I did made a difference, so as crazy as it sounds, I was actually happy to put in the extra hours


 

What’s great about the job

Now the tough bits are out of the way, let me tell you about what I absolutely loved about being President:

+ It actually matters

If you’re like me, and the thought of working a 9-5 job to line someone else’s pocket makes you shiver, then the best place you could work is a charity or a non-profit organisation. You’ll go to bed every night with the knowledge that even if you only helped one student today, you’ve done something worthwhile.

+ You’re working with a team who care as much as you do

Everyone’s working towards the same goal, and they won’t turn you away if you need help. You’re usually not the only one in the office either, the Student Officer team work closely to support each other on campaigns.

+ Appeals Panels

Okay, I know I said appeals panels were tough, but they can actually be a positive too. Knowing you’re doing your part to keep a student on course and in University is actually an incredibly rewarding feeling.

+ Mentoring and support

You’ll have access to a mentor, who has umpteen years of sector experience. They’ll guide you through your year in office and help you to develop your skills – it will stand you in good stead whatever you decide to move onto next.

+ You get to travel

I’d never travelled much out of the North West before becoming an officer, and I’ve now been to see almost every corner of England through my role. Three of us were even lucky enough to be sent to Poland to visit Auschwitz with the Union of Jewish Students – a trip I’ll never forget.

+ You build important networks

Through being an Officer, I’ve met so many incredible people – Andy Burnham (Mayor of Manchester), a Holocaust survivor, the Chairman of WWF, and Sam Gyimah (ex-Universities Minister). You’ll also enter into a network of Student Officers across the country, and get to share your knowledge and experience with each other.

How do I apply?

It’s easy, you just need to nominate yourself from 31 Jan 2020 onwards. You’ll then be put in touch with the Voice team and they can guide you through the next steps.

Amie Atkinson,

Former President

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Featured, Lead Your Union, Officer blogs, Your Voice

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