Being part of a society at university is a great way to meet like-minded people and discover hidden talents. If you’ve discovered a society you’re particularly passionate about, you might decide to take it a step further and become part of the team that runs it.
Being part of a university society committee is a great way to get more involved in your favourite group, gain leadership skills and improve the society for others.
If you’re keen to be part of the society committee, there are likely to be procedures specific to your university and group, but read on to grasp the general route…
Find out what positions are available
Different societies will have varying roles, so it’s important to find out which roles they have and which are available to you.
Common roles are:
- President and Vice President – they run the society, make crucial decisions and resolve disputes
- Secretary – handles the paperwork, sign-ups and emails
- Treasurer – handles the society’s finances
- Social secretary – organises social events for the society
There are also likely to be roles specific to the society you’re passionate about. Check the web page or ask current committee members what these roles are.
Most societies elect a new committee every academic year, so look out for position openings towards the end of the final semester. There may also be openings throughout the year if a member steps down from their post.
Decide which role is best for you
It can be tempting to run in all guns blazing and apply for President. This is the position with the most responsibility and will impress employers the most. But it’s important to consider which role best suits your personality and availability.
Always choose something that lets you be yourself. Source: Giphy
It can be helpful to consider the following:
- How much time do you have? Can you dedicate a lot of your time to a significant role, or do you have demanding studies or a part-time job you need to focus on first?
- How committed are you? Are you ready to put your blood, sweat and tears into the society, or do you just want to have fun while gaining new skills?
- What best suits your personality? Are you extroverted and thrive around people, or do you work best behind the scenes making sure everything’s in order?
There’s no point applying for a role you can’t fulfil or won’t enjoy. Make sure you consider whether you’ll actually have the time and motivation to make the most of it, or whether you’re being overly optimistic.
It’s a good idea to get in contact with the current society committee member of the role you’re applying for. They’ll be able to explain what the role is like, challenges they faced and the things they would do if they had more time.
Prepare for the application process
If you’re applying for a committee role for the next academic year, applications will likely take place in the Annual General Meeting (AGM). After the current committee discusses the milestones and triumphs of the past year, the floor will open for society members to apply for the new roles.
This usually takes the form of a speech on why you should hold the position, followed by a vote of those attending regarding who they think should get the role.
Try to be a littttlllee more modest than this… Source: Giphy
If the society is particularly big or the role is competitive, the current committee may ask for people to submit a written application ahead of time to narrow entries down.
When preparing your application, be it written or spoken, it’s useful to consider:
- Why do you want the role? Will the role help you in your specific career, are you passionate about improving the society for future students or have you been committed to the society for a long time?
- What skills do you have that make you right for the role? There will be other applicants, so what makes you better for the role over them? This could be previous leadership experience, in-depth knowledge about the society’s focus or a passion for bringing change.
- What value can you bring in your role? Think about what you plan to do for the society through your position, and how you’ll make the group better. Draw on the past year’s performance and explain how you’ll improve it.
- By thinking about these things ahead of time, you’ll be able to convincingly put your case forward during the AGM.
Launching your campaign
If you’re applying for an influential society or university sports team, you may be required to campaign for your role. This often involves:
- Creating a campaign video
- Having an online presence
- Handing out flyers
- Spreading your manifesto far and wide
- It can be useful to enlist friends to help create your campaign, share their skills with you and build an on-campus presence.
Probably not the most successful campaign in the world. Source: Giphy
This can be the most fun part of applying for a committee role, as well as the most intense. Engaging content, either provocative or entertaining, often build the most successful campaigns and helps spread your message before speech day comes….
Giving your speech
Being on a society committee is a position of responsibility and authority. As such, it’s important that you come across confident and capable in your speech.
This can be tricky when you care about the role you’re applying for, and its normal for nerves to seep in. The following steps can help you overcome any barriers preventing your confident presentation at the AGM:
- Remember the key points of why you want the role, but don’t memorise the speech entirely. This will allow you to speak naturally and portray yourself in the best light, rather than coming across wooden and rigid.
- Ask some of your friends from the society to attend the AGM so you’re reassured they’ll support you no matter what. Everyone gets a little tongue-tied when presenting, but having some friendly faces nearby should help calm the nerves.
- Whatever happens, it’s not the end of the world – while you might be passionate about getting the position, it’s unlikely it will impact your life forever whichever way it turns out. Removing the pressure from the situation will allow you to enjoy the application process and be yourself, rather than be stressed out and anxious the entire time.
Awaiting the result
You’re likely to have to wait a few days to find out whether you got the role and allow the previous committee to end their term. This can be nerve-wracking, but during this time you can begin setting the wheels in motion.
If you’ve made immediate promises should you get the position, start the process on these right away. That way, if you’re elected, you’ll make an excellent first impression, and if not, you’ve helped a society you’re truly passionate about.
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